Krystin Dubuc // Community Futures Fraser Fort George
It is no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted women in business. Across the country, and around the world, female entrepreneurs were more likely to lose contracts, lay off staff, or close their business as they were more likely to work in sectors that saw greater impacts such as retail, personal services, and arts and recreation. Women led businesses have also had a harder time recovering compared to male-led businesses and are still facing many of the same challenges that were present at the beginning of the pandemic.
In response to these increased pressures, Community Futures developed a new program through the LEAP for Women in Business to support women entrepreneurs to support, stabilize, and enhance their business to meet the changing environment. This program offers one-on-one business coaching and grants of up to $5000 to hire consultants with specialized expertise to help the business pivot and become more resilient.
Leading the program is Sarita Parmar, who joined the Community Futures team in the summer of 2020. Sarita brings over 15 years of experience and passion to the position and enjoys working with female entrepreneurs. She has experience working with businesses of all sizes from the small “mom and pop” shops to multi-million dollar entities, across different sectors in Northern BC.
Sarita answered some questions about her program and why she feels it’s so important.
A Q&A with Sarita Parmar, Business Coach
Tell Us a Little Bit About Yourself?
I’m a Northern BC girl with a background in business banking. I love the energy entrepreneurs bring to the table and find it very rewarding being able to support them in achieving their goals. I’m a mom who loves food, red wine and spending quality time with loved ones.
Can you tell us a bit about the program?
So many businesses have been impacted by the pandemic and continue to be impacted. The Consulting Grant for Women Entrepreneurs program is specifically for those women owned and led businesses that have been operating for at least one year and are looking to hire an outside consultant or service provider to help them move forward. Specifically, strategies to attract customers, market a business, and/or improve profitability. Some examples include website development, marketing strategies, strategic planning, HR management, to name a few. You want to be able to answer “what will you have when the consultant leaves?”
Complimentary one on one coaching is also available for those in search of some support in moving their business forward, regardless of qualifying for the grant or not.
What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs who are not sure of their next step?
Reach out to someone you trust. There is a lot of power in connection and many entrepreneurs have similar struggles and doubts. Sharing and having conversations with others allows you to 1. feel you aren’t alone, and 2. learn about best practices and resources you wouldn’t otherwise know about.
I very recently hung out with a women entrepreneur who shared some of the challenges she’s going through with her business. She had different ideas but wasn’t sure where to start. She happened to learn about us through an online post and decided to reach out. After listening to her I provided a couple of suggestions and she felt relieved she could talk to someone and get some information in helping her move from point A to B.
About the author: Krystin Dubuc is the Projects Coordinator for Community Futures Fraser Fort George, which is an organization dedicated to supporting small business at every stage in the Fraser Fort George region with training, tools, and financing. Krystin supports businesses through special initiatives and community based projects at CF FFG. Krystin graduated from UNBC in Prince George and has a passion for community economic development. She enjoys exploring the region with her family and seeking out the perfect glazed donut.