She Leads: Helping women with entrepreneurial empowerment

Kimberley Buckeridge and Jenna Kawzenuk are organizing the Enactus She Leads event, designed to empower female entrepreneurs. Photo credit: Madison Gulenchyn

In her hit song, Beyonce asks, ‘who run the world?’.

An entrepreneurial group at UOIT believes, like Beyonce, the answer is – girls!

At least that’s what Enactus, a group of entrepreneurial leaders at UOIT, is trying to prove with its latest event.

The group is holding a networking session designed to empower women entrepreneurs Feb. 7. It’s called She Leads and is organized by Kimberley Buckeridge and Jenna Kawzenuk, fourth-year public health students at UOIT.

The group sees business as a way to address social issues and its female-branded event makes no exception.

This is the second She Leads event of the school year and will be held at the downtown UOIT campus for students, staff and other individuals who identify as female. The first session in the fall attracted 25 students.

“It’s really just an opportunity for females to get together and talk about what it’s like to be a female in business,” Buckeridge says. “I think a lot of people experience empowerment when they attend these events, when they see all of these people being so successful.”

The idea for She Leads stemmed from a previous Enactus event, HSBC Woman Leader of Tomorrow, which is similar in nature, but one that included a lot of men in the audience.

“It was a strange environment, to be around a bunch of females talking about being in all very similar positions [while having men around],” Buckeridge says. “I was inspired by that to replicate it again at the university and bring that back to the [female] students, to show them that we’re all very similar.”

Events like She Leads are necessary, according to a report from Women Entrepreneurs Saskatchewan (WESK), which is focused on women entrepreneurship in Canada.

In 2017, women accounted for 37 per cent of self-employment in Canada.

Additionally Statistics Canada reported that women-owned businesses experienced the fastest growth from 2005 to 2013, growing 33 per cent.

“I’m very passionate about women and entrepreneurship, those are things that interest me. So, anyway that I can incorporate all of those things, and learn from other people’s experiences, especially successful women, that’s really important to me,” Kawzenuk says.

Both of the organizers agree the event is vital and acts as a safe space for women.

“You need to pull people together and prove that they can do this, we are just as amazing as the men who have been successful as well,” Buckeridge says.

The event takes place Feb. 7 at the downtown UOIT Campus Atrium, 61 Charles St., Oshawa.

It runs from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., admission is free for students with a valid DC or UOIT student I.D., and $5 for community members who identify as female.