Support for your women-led social enterprise
The Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network (WOSEN) offers a suite of programs for women interested in starting or growing their own ventures that seek to have a positive social, cultural or environmental impact through their operations, and/or the sale of their products or services.
WOSEN is dedicated to equity and inclusion, and the term “women” is used collectively throughout this page. We serve trans and cis women, and our programming is inclusive of Two-Spirit, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals. We prioritize those from underserved and underrepresented communities, including Indigenous folks, folks in rural or remote regions, racialized folks, newcomer folks, LGBTQ2+, and folks with disabilities.
Our programming works to unleash the entrepreneurial energy and capacity of women who have solutions that put people and the planet first. Together, we are redesigning how business supports are provided so these entrepreneurs can build the skills, make the connections, and receive the coaching needed to achieve their missions.
CSI is offering three free programs within the WOSEN initiative:
Investment Readiness Supports
As an entrepreneur it can be challenging to find and prepare for the right grant, loan, or investment opportunity. We are here to help.
The Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network (WOSEN) is hosting Investment Readiness Supports for trans and cis women, Two-Spirit, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals who lead established social ventures, who have a defined capital need, and who are preparing for funding or investment in the coming year.
Meet us online: Zoom Classroom and on the Common Platform.
What You’ll Gain
As a participant, you’ll…
- Improve your venture story and presentation
- Get to know the funding landscape
- Map out a clear and actionable funding and capital plan
- Understand when a grant, a loan, or an investment is best for your venture
- Prepare for current funding opportunities matched to your needs
Participate in one 3-hour program orientation where you will begin to develop your funding and capital plan for your venture.
You then can choose to participate in the following offerings:
- Join a monthly workshop that dives deep into investment readiness with special guests and exercises that help you to develop a funding and capital plan
- Meet with us one-to-one to review your plan, or your funding submissions
- Participate in monthly peer circles where your peers share back valuable insights and peer support
- Our team will research funding opportunities matched to your needs
- Find funding and opportunity updates on The Common Platform
We aim to provide a tailored approach to meet the needs of your venture and industry.
The Start Program
Are you interested in exploring your purpose as a social entrepreneur? Do you have an early-stage idea that will create positive social or environmental impact?
Join the Start program, a 9-week online program for aspiring women entrepreneurs that covers the foundations of social entrepreneurship – from making sure you’ve identified the right problem, to developing a solution, to turning your idea into a sustainable business model. We serve trans and cis women, and programming is inclusive of Two-Spirit, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals.
If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves, invest in your personal and professional growth, and turn your idea into impact, this is the right course for you!
Applications for Start are now closed.
When and Where
Classes will run:
September 29, 2021 to December 1, 2021
Wednesdays: 5:30 – 8:30 PM ET
Online: Zoom Classroom and Slack workspace
What You’ll Learn
We’ve designed this program to foster a collaborative, supportive and inclusive virtual community for our cohort. Together, we will explore social entrepreneurship and various tools and resources to help refine your social enterprise idea, while gaining valuable skills that will give you the confidence to move your idea forward.
Throughout the 9-week program, you will:
- Explore your purpose as a social entrepreneur within a supportive online community
- Discover your problem space
- Map opportunities for impact & discover your key stakeholders
- Build your business model
- Identify funding options
By the end of the 9 weeks, you’ll gain experience, confidence and practice in core areas such as critical thinking, systems thinking, active listening, storytelling, decision making and business modelling.
In addition to the 9-week Start Program online curriculum, participants will also gain:
- Four one-to-one coaching sessions with an experienced social enterprise coach
- Access to online CSI Community perks: CSI Community Membership & invitations to additional online workshops
- Extra support through weekly (virtual) peer engagement sessions
- Access to valuable tools, guides and worksheets for your future use
Who You’ll Meet
You will form deep connections with a diverse cohort of 15 women changemakers who are passionate, driven and committed to making a positive impact. In this program you will also have an opportunity to connect with a coach from our diverse community of social enterprise coaches, because we believe representation is important and highly valuable.
The Start Program was developed in partnership with the Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network. WOSEN is dedicated to equity and inclusion and the term ‘women’ is used collectively throughout this page. We serve trans and cis women, and our programming is inclusive of Two-Spirit, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals. We prioritize those from underserved and underrepresented communities, including Indigenous folks, folks in rural or remote regions, racialized folks, newcomer folks, LGBTQ2+, and folks with disabilities.
The Grow Program
Do you want to move your business forward with confidence? Are you looking to build traction, expand your partnership and network opportunities, and develop yourself further as a social entrepreneur?
We’re here to help!
CSI and the Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network (WOSEN) have designed a twenty-week program to support a cohort of ten women social entrepreneurs as they build, refine, and test their business models, and learn new skills to help them succeed. We serve trans and cis women, and programming is inclusive of Two-Spirit, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals.
You will collaborate with a supportive community of facilitators, experts, coaches, and a cohort of peers as you explore two main themes throughout the program: 1) business model development and 2) leadership. We will support you through an immersive learning journey with a hands-on, practical approach to refining and validating your business model. You will engage in focused research to identify the key market gaps you want to address and conduct interviews with potential clients and partners to help you validate your business model and test critical assumptions.
Our team will support you in developing emergent strategies to refine and differentiate your product or service based on your research insights. You will gain leadership skills and competencies required to better understand your market and build your business strategy with intention and impact. Participation is free, we take no equity, and your intellectual property remains your own!
Applications for Grow are now closed.
When and Where
Weekly on Tuesdays until March 1, 2022. No workshops on December 21 & 28. Our programming will take place on Zoom and Slack.
Onboarding & Orientation: Week 0 (Oct 12)
Get to know your cohort and how to navigate our online program.
Business Model Refinement & Implementation: Weeks 1-7 (Oct 19 – Nov 30)
Engage in hands-on, practical research to identify the key market gaps you want to address. Learn the process of creating a sustainable business model and apply your learnings in real time towards your business. Connect with experts to learn how to conduct market research and interviews on a budget to iterate your business model based on your stakeholder needs. Get support with networking and creating effective partnerships.
Integrate Insights & Develop Your Strategy: Weeks 8-9 (Dec 7-14)
Assimilate data you’ve collected and integrate insights from your research and interviews to develop your strategy moving forward.
NOTE: No workshops on December 21st & 28th
Build Traction: Weeks 12-19 (Jan 4 – Feb 22)
Continue to iterate your business model and learn more about financial modelling to make better informed financial decisions. Meet our marketing, sales, and communications experts to help you develop more effective strategies for communicating your offering to your target audience. You will also have the opportunity to participate in a WOSEN Pitch Showcase & Networking Event! Deliver your pitch and connect with potential partners and funders in the entrepreneurship sector.
Offboarding: Week 20 (March 1, 2022)
Connect to relevant resources and explore your next steps for growth and support.
After the Grow program is done, you will have 1) gained confidence in knowing how to refine and validate your business model, 2) improved your leadership skills to support your team and 3) developed a clear strategy as you grow your enterprise and navigate forward.
Support for you every step of the way
More About WOSEN
The Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network (WOSEN) is a collaborative led by Pillar Nonprofit Network alongside Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), SVX, NORDIK Institute and Lean 4 Flourishing. WOSEN proposes to broaden and diversify the entrepreneurial ecosystem supporting women through inclusive program design. This will support 150 new women-led social enterprises across Ontario and help grow 75 existing ones, as well as offer 10 women-centred innovation training sessions to 250 people in 12 communities. CSI, along with members of the WOSEN partnership are committed to moving forward a set of key design principles in our Start program & Grow accelerator.
Our programs are designed to be:
- Inclusive and accessible
Inclusion and Diversity
CSI and WOSEN are dedicated to equity and inclusion. We encourage participation of trans and cis women, as well as Two-Spirit, non-binary, and genderqueer individuals. We prioritize those from underserved and underrepresented communities, including Indigenous folks, folks in rural or remote regions, racialized folks, newcomer folks, LGBTQ2+, and folks with disabilities.
Partners and Funders
WOSEN is funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. The Government of Canada is advancing gender equality, women’s economic empowerment, and supporting women entrepreneurs through the new Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, announced in the Budget 2018. It is a $2-billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.
Fed Dev Ontario
Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network
Part of the CSI Accelerates Initiative
At CSI, we support entrepreneurs’ success with resources, mentors, expertise and connections that lead to viable enterprising solutions. Learn more about our approach here.