WCBSN Partners team up to support Entrepreneurs with Disabilities to start and grow businesses in Western Canada

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10 western Canadian community economic development organizations have teamed up to support a program giving aspiring entrepreneurs with disabilities or health conditions in the four Western Canada region free access to a new kind of support, guidance, and mentorship they need to start and grow businesses in our communities.

Celebrating 25 Years

“By working collaboratively with organizations across the Prairies, we are building a more inclusive and resilient economy that works for all Canadians.” - the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance.

To celebrate 25 years of the Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program, rural Community Futures organizations across the west have teamed up with their urban partners (Momentum, Prospect Human Services, EDP Winnipeg, South SK Independent Living Center and Ability Hub YXE) to present four cohorts of the Mashup Lab Virtual Business Incubator to their provinces. The first cohort will start in early February of 2023 and will run through to December 3, 2023.

The Mashup Lab Virtual Business Incubator is an intense, hands-on process that allows aspiring entrepreneurs, as well as existing businesses looking to grow in a new direction, to understand the foundational underpinnings of their business model and the next steps they need to take to begin to validate the viability of their business idea. Delivered 100% online once a week over 6-weeks per cohort, Mashup Lab will work with a group of up to 15 entrepreneurs from these regions, giving participants access to peer-to-peer support, as well as 1-on-1 coaching from other experienced entrepreneurs that can provide advice and guidance grounded in their personal experience.

“In just the last 36-months we’ve help aspiring entrepreneurs start and grow well over 200 businesses in over 180 communities throughout Canada & America, and that number continues to grow every month” shares Andrew Button, Founder & CEO of Mashup Lab. “We’ve discovered that there is a deep well of untapped entrepreneurial talent sitting ‘on the sidelines’ in every region we’ve launched our Virtual Business Incubator, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be working with these economic development leaders in these regions to make this opportunity available in western Canada.”

The participation of the four cohorts in the Mashup Lab Virtual Business Incubator has been made possible thanks in part to a federal investment of $69,526 through PrairiesCan’s Community Economic Development and Diversification (CEDD) program. This program aims to generate sustainable, inclusive economic growth and help communities in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba to fully participate in and benefit from economic opportunities.

“Building an inclusive economy where entrepreneurs of all abilities have the opportunity to start and grow a business is critical to the Prairie economy and to the vibrancy of our communities,” said the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan. “Our government’s economic plan is about creating good jobs, sustainable growth, and building up an economy that works for everyone. The Mashup Lab Virtual Business Incubator supports that by providing services to help talented entrepreneurs to take their businesses to the next level.”

“Our support for the Mashup Lab Virtual Business Incubator will enable entrepreneurs with diverse abilities, lived experience and talents to access training, mentorship, and support they need to launch and grow their business,” said the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance. “By working collaboratively with organizations across the Prairies, we are building a more inclusive and resilient economy that works for all Canadians.”

MashUp Lab’s focus has been on inspiring people in rural places to pursue their dreams, develop their full potential and lead communities to thrive and now they are thrilled to include an urban component to their scope. Supported by Prairies Economic Development Canada, Community Futures and their Entrepreneurs with Disabilities partners have seen the success of the previous Mashup Lab Dream Business Programs in helping to initiate and grow many businesses across the Prairies.

The Mashup Lab Virtual Business Incubator is 100% free for participants and takes place during an evening timeslot, making it accessible for those that wouldn’t otherwise be able to participate during the day. Applications for the program are now being accepted through the website https://mashuplab.ca/communityfutures. Space is limited, so those interested in taking advantage of this opportunity are encouraged apply early.

BACKGROUND:

About Mashup Lab

Mashup Lab (http://www.mashuplab.ca), based in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, is focused on unleashing untapped entrepreneurial potential in rural places. Over the past 36-months, Mashup Lab has put over 370 people through its Virtual Business Incubator, helping entrepreneurs in more than 180 communities throughout rural Canada and rural America launch over 220 active and growing businesses.

Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program in the Prairie provinces

Western Canadians with disabilities or ongoing health conditions can access a network of business professionals and other resources through PrairiesCan's Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Program (EDP). EDP provides business information, training and development, mentoring and one-on-one counseling services.

EDP provides access to business services across the Prairie provinces, including:

  • mentoring and one-on-one counseling services
  • access to business training and development
  • business loans (in some locations)
  • help to identify requirements for specialized equipment

For more information on EDP and the services available contact the organization closest to you, as listed on the PrairiesCan website.

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Margi Storey

Andrew Button