Media Release

WE-CAN Project at Queen’s University and Kingston Economic Development Corporation Announce First Rural Mentorship Cohort

For Immediate Release

July 7, 2020

Queen’s University and Kingston Economic Development Corporation announced today the names of nine rural, women-led businesses that will make up the first cohort of the Rural Mentorship Program.

The three-month Rural Mentorship Program is part of the WE-CAN Project at Queen’s University, supported with over $3-million in funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). The program will be delivered by Kingston Economic Development Corporation and led by Claire Bouvier, Small Business Advisor at Kingston Economic Development Corporation.

Designed to provide one-on-one mentorship for rural women entrepreneurs in the Kingston region, the program is tailored to address their specific business goals to help them build and expand their rural enterprises.

 Participating companies:

  • Afiya Beauty (Quinte West) – produces holistic health and clean beauty products for a variety of skin types.
  • Chewmarks (Kingston Region) – meets the branding needs of tenacious entrepreneurs who need clarity and direction in their business.
  • Evolution Group (Gananoque) – provides executive coaching and training to support leaders and teams to build winning organizations. 
  • Handy Fairies (Amherst Island) – provides comprehensive, high quality, and reliable cleaning solutions in the Kingston region.
  • Haymaker’s Coffee Co. (Wolfe Island) – roasts single origin, microlot coffee in their barn on Wolfe Island.
  • House of Three (Inverary) – provides a full range of architectural design services for custom homes, small commercial buildings, tenant fit-ups and renovations.
  • Parks Creek Retreat (Roslin) - a four season getaway with luxury amenities in a beautifully natural setting. Specializes in private getaways, corporate retreats, wellness retreats, intimate weddings and elopements. 
  • Ready to Root (Kingston Region) empowering adventure seekers with convenience kits for intimacy on-the-go.
  • Skippers Takeout and Catering (Kingston Region) – provides food services for takeout, delivery and catering.  

"Queen’s is honoured to receive WES funding from the federal government which is enabling the university to design and deliver numerous programs and services, in collaboration with several partners, to support women entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups. The Rural Mentorship Program is supporting women who are building rural-based businesses and who face unique challenges, such as isolation, lack of networks, and limited access to resources.” Janice Mady, Director, Research and Innovation Partnerships, Queen’s University

“Helping more women become entrepreneurs is both the right thing to do for our society, and the smart thing to do for our economy. Yet women entrepreneurs face unique challenges, and we’re here to support them. With the support of FedDev Ontario, the WE-CAN Project will help more of them succeed through important mentorship and networking opportunities, and I look forward to seeing the difference it makes for women entrepreneurs across Ontario.” - The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

 “The impact and success of the WE-CAN Women Rural Mentorship Program has far exceeded our original expectations. The program has not only provided mentorship tailored to the specific business goals of each woman entrepreneur but has also created a sense of community amongst the participants. We look forward to continuing this program until 2022.”  Shelley Hirstwood, Business Development Officer, Kingston Economic Development Corporation

“More than ever, our rural female entrepreneurs need mentorship. So many have been working alone and struggling quietly. The start of this program has been incredibly successful as the women of this program connect, collaborate, encourage, problem solve and innovate together with the help of their mentors. I’m so proud to be part of this movement and applaud these women for their leadership and the risks they take every day to create meaningful businesses in our community.”  Claire Bouvier, Small Business Advisor, Kingston Economic Development Corporation


Kingston Economic Development Corporation
Queen’s University Partnerships and Innovation
FedDev Ontario

Social: Follow the WE-CAN Project at @WECANQueensU on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Anne Craig, Media Relations Officer
Queen’s University
[email protected]

Nour Mazloum, Communications & Events Officer
Kingston Economic Development Corporation
[email protected]