An Ojibway entrepreneur will be able to grow her small business thanks to a venture capital group that has women investors supporting women entrepreneurs.
SheEO launched in 2015 and called for 500 female “activators” to invest a thousand dollars each to create a pool of capital of $500,000. That money was given as zero interest loans to five women for their business ideas.
Twenty-five participants competed for the loans. One of the winners is Patrice Mousseau, from Fort William First Nation, Ont., now living in Vancouver.
“I just picked my daughter up from kindergarten and one of the activators called me and unfortunately I think I swore in the car and then I started crying,” said Mousseau.
Women investing in women
She credits not only the money she will receive from the venture capital group but the support she feels from the all women investors.
“Sometimes you kind of question yourself in business; am I doing the right thing, is this the right project, even is my project worthwhile? And then all these women come up behind you and go’ yes it is, we believe in you and here’s my money.'”
Her company, Satya Organic Skin Care, was born out of the need to treat her baby daughter’s eczema.
Mousseau did not want to treat her daughter’s condition with steroid cortisone cream. “I wasn’t willing to put that on my child,” said Mousseau, a former broadcaster.
“So I used my research skills and looked at traditional medicine and academic studies from different universities and then created something in my crock-pot in my kitchen.”
She said she will use the loan for production runs but eventually the goal is to set up an on reserve production facility, a goal that is much closer now.
“We can hire First Nations moms with kids, to bring their kids to work, they can work in the facility and then bring in community members like kookums to come in and take care of the kids and have everybody together.”
Her balm is available in 500 stores across Canada she said, a significant growth in a short period of time.
“I mean, I literally started this in my crock pot in my kitchen,” she said. “But I never anticipated that it would blow up this big, this fast.”