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Wrapping up BACD’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Program

3.5 min read999 words

In March 2022 BACD completed the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (WEP). It was a program funded by the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy and ran from 2019 – 2022.

Our program provided virtual business coaching, mentoring, and support to help those who identify as women to start and grow a new full time business in the Durham Region.

There was no financial commitment as it was free to join and the program provided:

  • Access to a community of female entrepreneurs igniting their passions
  • Virtual and in-person business planning, mentorship, and seminars/webinars (pre COVID)
  • Virtual collaboration among all entrepreneurs from across Eastern Ontario)
  • Online resources to assist them in starting, maintaining and growing a successful business
  • There was also an opportunity to apply for a $2,000 start-up micro-loan from Pathwise Credit Union  or apply to other entrepreneurial programs such as the Starter Company Plus and Futurpreneur.

The program was designed to run over a (3 month) period and included 10 hours of business development training and 4 hours of mentorship sessions.  Entrepreneurs completed their business plan and 2 year projected cash flow during that time.

Overall, the program helped raise awareness of entrepreneurship programs and support for women in Durham Region, learn about other grant programs and funding options as well as to be part of a like mind entrepreneurial community.

With the onset of COVID19 during this time, it gave women who were now juggling stay at home partners and children, the opportunity and flexibility to work on their business development.  Many who entered the program were in the ideation phase and seeking guidance and direction on starting their own business.  The video modules and access to online workshops and events provided this opportunity.  The mentorship provided support and encouragement along the way.

WEP helped mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on women entrepreneurs by providing practical guidance and resources online and through video recordings. Women entrepreneurs were able to work on their business at times that worked for them.  Templates were provided to help them work through their ideas and to write out their plan.

During lockdown some entrepreneurs pressed pause on their business development.  Those who kept going, shared about feeling overwhelmed and burnt out.  Others expressed frustration as they found it difficult to launch their business with restrictions in place.  The ecosystem provided support and a safe place to express themselves and to share business resources and mentorship.

We recognize the efforts and commitment of these entrepreneurs and applaud them for leaning into the work required to get a new business idea off the ground.

We wanted to highlight 3 powerful female entrepreneurs who completed the program:

Melissa Malcolm, Malcolm HR Consulting
Melissa Malcolm Photo
Melissa is the Founder and Principal Consultant at Malcolm HR Consulting.

Melissa started Malcolm HR Consulting in 2020 to provide quality expert HR solutions to startups and small to medium-sized businesses in need of HR support. She recognized that many business owners do not have the need or budget to allocate to a full-time HR presence. Her solution was to create an outsourced HR practice that they can call upon for expert advice and tailored solutions that meet their budgets and solve their needs. Melissa approaches each situation with the utmost confidentiality and interacts with her clients in a collaborative manner.

Her goal is to help her clients succeed in their businesses, utilizing their greatest assets – their people.

Melissa was one of the first participants in the WEP program and looking to start an HR firm.  She needed help refining her business plan.


The support and advice of the Business Advisors was invaluable. Attending the Business Fundamentals series of workshops as well as participating in the Women’s Entrepreneurship Program really helped me when starting my business.

Elaine Dickson, Elaine Dickson Photography
Elaine Dickson Headshot
Elaine is the founder and lead photographer at Elaine Dickson Photography
Elaine left the corporate media world to pursue her passion of photography. Using her experience in advertising and her trained eye in photography she produces images that capture the authentic you, that stand out from the crowd and that will keep you coming back time and time again.
Elaine Dickson Photography specializes in headshots, portrait photography, and professional branding.
Elaine entered the WEP program looking for clarity in the pursuit of owning her own photography business.




Ashley Alton R.TCMP R.Ac, Haven Healthcare

Ashley Alton Headshot

Ashley is a Registered TCM Practitioner and Acupuncturist (CTCMPAO) and owner of the Oshawa-based Acupuncture Clinic, Haven Healthcare.
In 2019 Ashley and her family moved from Toronto to Oshawa, and she was looking to open a clinic, it wasn’t until January 2021 that she found the perfect clinic space to open Haven Healthcare. Her understanding of stress and trauma, how they impact our nervous systems, and the fundamental importance of creating a sense of safety in order to facilitate healing has been the driving force behind this clinic space. Her vision is to create a refuge for her patients, a place to access quality holistic healthcare in a calming, soothing environment. As a practitioner of mindfulness, Ashley feels that the treatment starts as soon as you walk through the door.
Their practitioners would like to be your health & wellness ally in navigating your pain & tension, stress, infertility issues, & more, while helping you reach your mental & physical health goals.
Ashley entered the WEP program seeking help with the opening of her clinic.  She was looking for guidance on business planning and cash flow projections.

After the successful completion of WEP, all three business owners started their business and went on to apply for the Starter Company Plus program where they were awarded a grant.
Congratulations to them and to all who participated in the program. And thank you to all who contributed and supported the running of the program.

BACD continues to offer step by step guidance and support to women entrepreneurs through core business workshops, events and entrepreneurial programs, as well as meetings with business advisors.

Thank you to the Government of Canada for this funding opportunity to support Women Entrepreneurs.

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