It’s tough to find a job in most rural communities, so many women are becoming their own bosses, opening small businesses or otherwise becoming self-employed.
Elaine Palson, economic development officer with Community Futures White Horse Plains, provided background information on Canada’s female entrepreneurs. In 2007, women retained ownership in 47% of Canada’s 1.6-million small and medium-sized enterprises, representing over $117-billion in annual economic activity. In addition, between 1999 and 2009, the number of self-employed females increased by 13% compared with 10% for men.
Palson has worked with female clients in the RMs of Cartier, St. Francois Xavier and Headingley to help them in developing business plans and addressing financing and other management issues.
"Women entrepreneurs face similar challenges that any professional women do," she said.
In some cases, she said, the greater flexibility in working hours attracts women with young families.
Darlene Telesky-Rivard runs her drafting business, Dawnassea Designs, from her home in St. Eustache. While her children are now older, she still appreciates being able to take time off work if necessary. However, she often works on weekends when her clients are available.
"I work around my clients’ lives and make things work," she said.
She added that she’s learned to find a happy medium in the six years since she started her business.
She enjoys being able to live in the country, although she usually schedules her client visits with other errands when she drives into Winnipeg.
Rita Tully has run an accounting business from her Lido Plage location for 26 years. She said that thanks to her investment in technology, she has clients across Canada.
As an employer of four, she sees a benefit in being able to offer jobs to local residents.
"They value a good job that’s close to them," she said.
The Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba will schedule training seminars in rural communities if there’s a request made.
"We recognize that not everyone can get into the city," said director of communications and client services Allison Kirkland.
The Centre offers four online seminars, one of which is a free 20-minute session to help women who are thinking about starting their own business.
More information on Community Futures White Horse Plains is available at www.whpcfdc.ca and on the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba at www.wecm.ca. Community Futures Triple R at www.cftripler.ca covers the RM of Macdonald.