CanWCC is a national not-for-profit organization built to address the two biggest challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and business owners in Canada:
Systemic barriers to success
A lack of community connection
In 2015, CanWCC founder Nancy Wilson left the security of the corporate world behind in favour of the freedom, flexibility and possibility of entrepreneurship.
She hung her shingle as a freelance accountant serving women-owned businesses – but discovered quickly that being a woman entrepreneur in Canada came with some significant challenges and barriers.
She heard her own frustrations reflected back to her time and again through her clients – and couldn’t help but notice that they didn’t seem to translate to the male ‘experience’ of entrepreneurship.
At the same time, Nancy was looking for community – but found the vast majority of networking groups targeted to women were lacking in the substance she was looking for - real tools for growth and valuable connections that were useful for her business.
So she decided to do something about it – and, in 2018, The Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce (CanWCC) was born.
We’re building networks of women on the ground growing successful businesses.
We give you a chance to participate and contribute your voice and experience to building a new strategy for women in business.
We take this strategy as an advocacy agenda to policy makers and demand that they address systemic challenges to create lasting change.
Resources, discounts, and referrals from our partner network to achieve your goals.
Though we offer a ton of benefits you won’t find anywhere else what makes us unique is our ability to effectively advocate on our members’ behalf as the first – and only – Chamber of Commerce for women business owners in Canada.
What is a Chamber of Commerce?
We’re so glad you asked. Chambers of Commerce are recognized advocacy agents made up of a defined group of business owners that provide policy recommendations to all levels of government.
CanWCC leverages this recognition and access to government to advocate on behalf of women-identified entrepreneurs and business owners in Canada. (You can read more about our advocacy work and agenda here.)
We have a ‘come as you are’ philosophy
We believe that women-identified entrepreneurs and business owners are competent, innovative, and ambitious.
Our team works (so hard!) every day to connect our members with the information and resources they need to succeed – on their terms – while advocating for the removal of systemic barriers to growth.
CanWCC is partially funded by a grant from the Department of Women and Gender Equality (WAGE).
We value: Community & Connection
We believe that business and community interests are not mutually exclusive. Just as businesses rely on community resources, they also have a responsibility to give back to the communities that support them.
We strive to promote, elevate and nurture cultural values, wellness and businesses that sustain both our communities and ourselves.
We believe in providing inclusive access to CanWCC’s programs, services, and resources and value the work done by all persons involved with the organization, both tangible and intangible.
We recognize the diverse experiences of newly immigrated, racialized, Indigenous, LGBTQIA2S+, gender non-binary, francophone, Northern and rural, low-income, young and senior women, and women with disabilities. We seek input from these communities to ensure programs, services, and resources provide equitable support to all women in business.
We value: Collaboration
We believe that change is better made in collaboration with others.
We choose to focus on complementing, rather than competing with, services, resources, and organizations in Canada’s business ecosystem. We value mutual benefit for all parties in all partnerships with members, sponsors, partner organizations, governments and the public.
We believe that compassion and empathy are the building blocks of connection and value the humanity, autonomy, and independence of all individuals.
Honestly, inclusion, and openness are essential to creating connection, and we strive to live these values in all interactions with members, sponsors, partners, governments and the public.
We value transparency and openness in our partnerships with members, sponsors, partner organizations, government and the public, and strive to be transparent in all communications. All advocacy, policies, programs, resources, and services are non-partisan.
We value: Change
We value agility, adaptability, iteration and self-efficacy in operations, advocacy, policies, programs, resources, services, and in all relationships with members, sponsors, partner organizations, governments and the public.
We strive to ensure CanWCC remains responsive to changes in the Canadian business ecosystem and member-voiced concerns. We will remain open to change and relevant to our membership for the lifetime of the organization.
Founder & CEO
Nancy Wilson is the Founder, CEO and chief rabble-rouser here at CanWCC.
In addition, Nancy is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CGA) with more than a decade of accounting experience in various corporate roles. She also owned and operated an accounting and business advisory firm serving women business owners and entrepreneurs.
Nancy launched CanWCC in January 2018 out of frustration regarding the barriers, lack of resources and difficulty finding connection she experienced as a business owner – and has been working ever since to create a powerful network of women through which to drive change and create equality in Canadian business.
Nancy is a driven and accomplished feminist entrepreneur who loves learning new things, meeting new people, discussing the philosophical underpinnings of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and watching horror movies.
Manager of Strategic Partnerships
Joella is our multi-talented Manager of Strategic Partnerships here at CanWCC. Prior to joining us, she spent a decade working in a variety of start-up and corporate environments (hence her multi-hyphenate descriptor: entrepreneur-connector-podcaster-champion of women in business).
Joella is passionate about leveling the playing field for women entrepreneurs and business owners in Canada and works tirelessly towards this goal. She enjoys putting strategy into motion, building relationships and executing on the operations side of her job – all of which she does like a total pro.
For fun, Joella tries at least two new things each year. Her highlight list currently includes becoming a certified sailor and producing a podcast!
Director of Advocacy and Public Policy
Jessica joins us formally as our Director of Advocacy and Public Policy after volunteering with us for almost two years. Jessica brings a dedicated passion to equality, gender equity and an intersectional feminist lens to all of our national policy work and has taken an active role in leading our Government update meetings and advocacy initiatives.
Spanning a variety of disciplines within the gender equity sector, Jessica is a non-profit professional that has worked on advocacy related to sexual violence, intimate partner violence and women’s economic security. Jessica is also focused on anti-racism and advocates for systems and policy change to encourage equity across the entire Canadian landscape from a holistic view bridging care and commerce together.
Especially eloquent around policy perspectives and change, Jessica has delivered keynotes, workshops, training and education materials on anti-black racism, gender, equity, and inclusion to strengthen organizational and individual capacity.
Tabitha is a force to be reckoned with ! Tabitha leads our Member Support and Member Success activities, bringing unique data-driven insights so we can make clear decisions in response to our members’ needs. Her passion for improving gendered access in socio-economic development through human-centered design makes her an invaluable team member.
Tabitha joins us after leading research opportunities across Canada and international experience in Tanzania where she dove into civil society analysis through primary research and is a published political science author.
Through Tabitha’s detailed and meticulous reporting, she brings a secret ingredient to the CanWCC core team: a wonder-woman ability to cut through noise and drive impact at scale.
Member Success Coordinator
(Part-time Communication Planner Extraordinaire)
Nobu leads our Membership Growth and Success activities across Canada lending her deep expertise on community building and engagement . Graciously over the past year, she’s led strategic communication opportunities and helped grow CanWCC’s new community initiative - CanACT. Nobu has also managed the hiring, training and onboarding of our volunteer team.
Having relocated to Canada in 2017, Nobu brings an extraordinary flare for writing, marketing, PR and outstanding high-touch communication experience to our team at CanWCC. With her past experience at companies like L’oreal, AMEX and the U.K Gove
Brand and Graphic Designer
Tasha is one of the most intellectually savvy designers we’re lucky to work with at CanWCC. She brings her whole self to the team, translating unwieldy messages, complex reports, and hard data into easily understandable, eye-catching content through a comprehensive approach to design.
Having worked with some of Toronto’s most exciting startups like SnapTravel, Myant, and more ; Tasha’s expertise goes beyond being a designer. She also participates in many CanWCC programming activities with empathy and earnest attention to creating a welcoming space
Process Management and
Kirthy has a deep love and passion for everything technical, numerical and process-oriented . After years of growing community initiatives in Nova Scotia’s growing startup community, we were lucky to have her join us to straighten out our processes and organize the entire team’s technical operations . While she spends most of her time as a software developer, at CanWCC she brings her deep analytical skills to our team keeping us focused on our KPI’s.
Being thrown into the deep end is also Kirthy’s forte, as she jumped on board and enthusiastically assisted the organization with special projects, managing volunteers and coordinating analytics for our content management system. Her understanding of operational processes makes her an asset to our team and our guiding post to stay focused on advancing women’s economic access and equity.
Founding Team Member (Currently on Sabbatical)
Paula is a social media and events manager who brings an eclectic mix of start-up, marketing, B2C, film, and television experience to her role of community manager at CanWCC.
Paula graduated from Ryerson University in 2007 with a BFA in film studies. She worked on projects for National Geographic, CBC, CTV, MTV and more, before finding her sweet spot in social media management.
A member of the CanWCC leadership team from day one, she built our social media and community strategy from the ground up. Paula expertly uses a variety of strategies and platforms to propel engagement and community growth and is a critical member of our leadership team because of it.
In her spare time, Paula takes quirky and colourful photos using Playmobil toys and posts them on her Instagram account, @PCLFletcher.