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Two female-owned Oakville businesses awarded National Visa Grant

National Visa Grant Program recipients include two female-led Oakville businesses: Our Ancestories and Nuba

Did you know that female-owned businesses are about twice as less likely to obtain capital financing than male-owned businesses?

Weigh in the pandemic, and small businesses - especially those run by women, are currently facing a host of challenges:

  • The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) estimates that the total debt held by small businesses in Canada is $139 billion.
  • Many businesses find themselves in challenging positions because sales haven't bounced back to where they were pre-pandemic.
  • 2 in 5 Canadian small businesses think challenges caused by the pandemic will outlast the pandemic. (Visa's 5th edition of Back to Business global study)

In response to this, Visa Canada announced its recipients of the She’s Next grant. These Canadian women entrepreneurs will receive a grant of $10,000 each and one year of business coaching through IFundWomen to support, grow and expand their businesses. This year, two Oakville women won this prestigious award.

Ekiuwa Aire, the owner of Our Ancestories, is one of the recipients. Our Ancestories is a publishing company that creates children’s books and accompanying educational resources that share positive stories based on African History. 

“Personally, I'm extremely thankful to have been selected from among the many businesses that applied for the Visa Canada She’s Next Grant Program," said Ekiuwa. "By receiving the Grant, I will be able to expand my business by creating more books and investing in distribution and marketing, joining the other like-minded businesses selected."

Ekiuwa is looking forward to sharing her ideas and getting feedback from other businesses going through similar challenges. "I'm super excited about the coaching that is also provided as part of this program. I'm hoping that I can learn a lot from the founders and mentors in the iFundWomen program.”

A mother and daughter are Oakville's second recipients. They are passionate about sharing the traditional Egyptian beverages passed down through generations in their family. Amal Soliman and Logaina Elkattan founded Nuba, which brews natural & healthy herbal infusions with unique ingredients like hibiscus flowers, Tamarind & Carob for delicious and authentic drinks. Nuba also prioritizes supporting small-scale farmers in Egypt.

“We're really honoured to have been recognized by Visa Canada and IFundWomen; it’s great to see others connecting with our story and mission. The grant and mentorship is going to be immensely helpful to our business in the coming months.”    

“Aiding in small business recovery and empowering entrepreneurs to keep growing and innovating is critical right now as we continue to live in a pandemic-challenged world,” said Stacey Madge, president and country manager, Visa Canada. “When it comes to where to shop, Canadians prioritize shopping locally, and now more than ever, appreciate what each small business brings to their communities. That’s why we have an ongoing commitment to them, particularly women-led businesses that have been disproportionately impacted during the pandemic. We congratulate the ten women entrepreneurs selected; they come from all sorts of backgrounds and industries and truly are an inspiration.”

“We thank Visa for their continued support of women entrepreneurs across Canada,” said Karen Cahn, Founder & CEO at IFundWomen. “The She’s Next Grant Program has broken down barriers for women to access grant funding by removing a revenue requirement and allowing applicants to convey their growth potential throughout the application. This additional round of grants is a demonstration of Visa’s unwavering commitment to Canadian small businesses and women-led small businesses specifically, and we look forward to the impact these grants will have on the recipients and their communities.”