Women Entrepreneurs Can (WE-CAN)

Kingston Economic Development is thrilled to be a partner in the WE-CAN (Women Entrepreneurs Can) project that is led by Queen’s University and made possible by the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund funded by FedDev Ontario. The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy and Ecosystem Fund supports the development and delivery of new programs and services to three groups of women entrepreneurs from underrepresented groups in Kingston and the surrounding region, including those who have founded or lead technology-based companies, women entrepreneurs who identify as Indigenous, and women entrepreneurs from other underrepresented groups or sectors including visible minorities, newcomers to Canada, women entrepreneurs with a disability, women entrepreneurs from rural areas, and women entrepreneurs who are under 40, who are looking to start and/or grow their businesses in Kingston and the surrounding area.

The mission for the WE-CAN project is to inspire and empower existing and aspiring women-identifying entrepreneurs by providing them with tools, resources, expert mentors, networks and community building to expand existing businesses and to launch new ventures.  

Since launching 18 months ago, Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation’s WE-CAN project has supported more than 800 women from underrepresented groups and sectors in achieving their entrepreneurial goals.

Kingston Economic Development delivers 5 different WE-CAN programs to support women entrepreneurs in Kingston and the surrounding region. At this time, all programs will be offered through virtual platforms. 

Hire Yourself


Hire Yourself is a program designed to support women who are newcomers to Canada (last 10 years) who are interested in starting a business in Kingston. The purpose of the program is to support women newcomers in starting their own business, strengthening their entrepreneurial skillset, and supporting them in the launch of their business. There will be 10 different workshops delivered over the course of the next 10 months.  One-on-one consultation services and networking opportunities will also be available to support business launches.

This program is offered for women entrepreneurs in the greater Kingston area who are interested in starting or growing a business and who self-identify as a newcomer to Canada, including but not limited to those belonging to a visible/racialized minority, or someone with a disability.

During the Hire Yourself Program, you can expect to learn about:

  1. Your skills, talents and motivation to learn about business
  2. Choosing or refining a business idea that has market value
  3. Understanding how to plan for starting or growing the business
  4. Common business terms and concepts for running a business
  5. How to market your business online and in the community
  6. How to pitch yourself to customers and business associates
  7. Government reporting rules for owners and employers
  8. Ownership and company structures
  9. How to refine and build the most valuable offer for your customers
  10. Which resources are available to you to start or grow your business for financing and learning

First workshop begins March 31st – Keep It Simple Start Up:  Your business dream and how to start.  Register by sending an email to [email protected]


Program Participant Testimonials

“I came into this program with a specific idea of what I wanted to do. And as the days went on, I’m even more inspired to go for it.” Hire Yourself Participant

“This was an opportunity for me to understand what it means to be a women and how to change the world in a real way.” Hire Yourself Participant

Rural Mentorship


The Rural Mentorship program provides dedicated mentorship tailored to support the individual business challenges of the participating rural, women entrepreneurs. The suite of mentors will include regional business leaders and service providers selected for their specific expertise and experience. This program will break down the geographic barriers and develop a long-lasting mentorship and mastermind outreach series to support business growth.

This program is designed for women entrepreneurs starting or growing businesses in rural areas outside the urban centre of Kingston. Priority will be given to rural women in the Frontenac County and Lennox & Addington County areas if programs/services are oversubscribed.

Applications are now closed!

Program Participant Testimonials

“I am very grateful to be a part of this program! The support of these strong women has allowed me to grow as a person and lifts me up with confidence to continue on my journey.” Janet F.

“The Rural Mentorship program was a lovely kick-in-the-pants. Set up with a fabulous mentor who had a fresh perspective and insight I needed, I had the chance to learn (and struggle alongside other rural women business owners. I am grateful for the community we discovered here and excited to see the program grow.” Brandy W.


Leadership Development and Excellence

The LEAD (Leadership Excellence and Development) program aims to engage and encourage dialogue, professional growth and knowledge-sharing through a formalized, supportive network of women in leadership roles. This program develops a network of creative, professional women focused on improving opportunities for women in business through networking, new connections, and educational workshops.

This program is designed for women entrepreneurs in the greater Kingston area who are in C-suite positions (CEO,CFO,CAO etc.,) and women in leadership positions within the Kingston Region.

Program Participant Testimonials

“Starting and growing a business is not for the faint of heart. Starting and growing a business through a pandemic is next-level scary. Thanks to the efforts and opportunities of Kingston EcDev and the WE-CAN programs, navigating the unknown in our business and life in 2020/21 felt possible. However, what took the LEAD program to next-level awesome was the opportunity to connect with a network of business women whose life and goals reflected mine. LEAD provided an opportunity for me to connect with women business owners who not only wanted to survive, they wanted to thrive.” Alix C.

“The LEAD program inspired me to establish clear cut deadlines to complete projects like my online nutrition course. The guest speakers and direction of the workshops were pertinent to my business development. The colleagues participating in my cohort were very open and shared their knowledge and expertise. The experience will contribute to life-long results in my business.” Michelle D.


Lead +

The LEAD+ (Leadership Excellence and Development) program engages women entrepreneurs in leadership positions who are interested in finding a way to break out of traditional, annualized thinking to achieve a higher level of productivity. The LEAD+ program was developed to catalyze business growth for women entrepreneurs who want to strive to accomplish more both personally and professionally. This program is facilitated by Cheryl Himburg, founder of Key Element Solutions and certified trainer of the 12-Week Year. Join Cheryl and 9 other women entrepreneurs like yourself to accomplish more in 12 weeks than many do in 12 months. Expand your network, create new connections, and discover the next level of you!

This program is designed for women entrepreneurs in the greater Kingston area who are in C-suite positions (CEO,CFO,CAO etc.,) and women in leadership positions within the Kingston Region.

What to Expect?

The LEAD+ program will kick off with a 4 hour planning session. This is where participants will go through the process of creating their goal and tactical plan for the next 90 days. Over the course of 11 weeks, the cohort will meet weekly for a 60 minute, impactful, virtual group coaching session. Participants will discuss the successes and challenges they are experiencing, assess their results, identify breakdowns and opportunities, and celebrate! Concepts are reviewed to further deepen understanding, and coaching is provided to the participants on how to overcome challenges they are experiencing and tap into higher performance and more consistent implementation. LEAD+ participants will be empowered through ongoing mindset support, and participants will learn how to leverage accountability – not only to themselves but to their support system – to be your best for others, you must first be your best for YOU!

Fast Track Exporting

The Fast Track Exporting program provides dedicated one-on-one business coaching with an industry expert for women entrepreneurs who are looking to scale their business through export opportunities. The one-on-one business consultations are complimented by events and workshops hosted by Kingston Economic Development focused on export, accessing new markets and international growth. The program will support women entrepreneurs through the process of exporting and accessing new markets.

The Fast Track Exporting program is designed for women entrepreneurs who reside in the greater Kingston area who are leading high-growth companies aiming to reach international markets through exporting options and have potential for significant return on investment.

Stay tuned on social media and see what our partners are doing as well:

Queen's University WE-CAN



We acknowledge the support of the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

Nous reconnaissons l'appui du gouvernement du Canada à travers l'Agence fédèrale de développement économique pour le sud de l'Ontario.

While all of the following programs and services will be delivered in English, certain programs and services will be made available in French in accordance with the terms of the Contribution Agreement between the City of Kingston and the Government of Canada. Please contact us to discuss your interests and needs.

Alors que tous les programmes et services seront offerts en anglais, certains programmes et services seront accessibles en fraçais conformément aux modalités de l'accord de contribution entre la Ville de Kingston et le Gouvernement du Canada. Prenez contact avec nous pour discuter de vos intérêts et de vos besoins.

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