Monica Kretschmer is founder and CEO of Canadian Business Chicks.
Calgary’s Business: What is Canadian Business Chicks?
Kretschmer: Canadian Business Chicks is a diverse community of professional and entrepreneurial women with a passion for uniting people to empower women in business, and who embrace life with courage, confidence commitment and integrity. We are a social enterprise leading with purpose and believe every woman has value and something special to contribute.
CB:When and why was it established?
Kretschmer: I jumped off the ledge and launched Canadian Business Chicks in 2014. I’m often asked why I launched Canadian Business Chicks and to be honest, the root of my why was to rebuild my life for myself and my son. After a very lengthy and atrocious divorce, I felt I had been tested for a bigger purpose.
Through diversity, I discovered my super human strength and stepped into my power as a woman and mother and discovered my cover values: courage, confidence, commitment and integrity. These values became the foundation of Canadian Business Chicks and remain a strong guide for the relationships we build. Our values have become our guiding principle for who we form partnerships with, align with the members we attract. We only get a few opportunities in life to make a difference, and I believe that you must pick up the bread crumbs and take that leap and start your journey.
I had a clear vision for the diverse community I wanted to create where innovation, recognition, mentorship, philanthropy and mentorship would connect women with shared values: courage, confidence, commitment and integrity. If you have not guessed it already, I love big juicy visions. I believe together we are stronger and we can move mountains.
Soon after I launched Canadian Business Chicks, the non-judgmental environment that bred authentic connections lead to our community The Nest. The Nest is a non-judgmental environment where women feel empowered and find support while building a business or advancing in their career. I know first-hand the challenges and struggles that women face in the corporate world and the strength that is required to start and scale a business. From the start, I had the vision to break barriers and silos, collaborate and create a diverse platform that welcomed every woman. I believe that every woman brings something to the table.
Since launching Canadian Business Chicks in May 2014, we have broken traditional barriers and silos by embracing collaboration and diversity. In four short years, I have built a recognizable brand across Canada and spearheaded partnerships with government agencies, non-profits, venture capitalists and women’s organizations.
In 2015, I launched Women of Inspiration Awards to recognize women across Canada who lead by example and inspire others to be more and do more. Our inaugural awards were created to honour my lawyer, Diane Harms, who believed in me and helped me overcome adversity over a seven -year period … I realized after the wild success of the first event that every woman has a woman of inspiration that inspires her to be more and do more. …
My vision includes launching Global Women of Inspiration to celebrate and connect women who inspire around the globe. I believe in paying it forward and have founded The Nest Foundation to empower women to rebuild their lives for themselves and their children. When women succeed, families succeed. Did you know that 76 per cent of women who go through divorce end up living in poverty?
CB:What sorts of things do you do to help female entrepreneurs?
Kretschmer: We have definitely evolved over the past four years. I have always asked the question: how can we best support you? Then set out to build it. For this reason, I am forever evolving The Nest and listening to the needs of our members. Over the past four years, we created a Boss Chicks Authentic Mentorship Program based on our core values to build the leader, and empower women to achieve success personally and professionally.
We have created Women of Inspiration to celebrate and recognize women making an impact in the community and around the globe. Recognition is incredibly powerful for confidence, credibility, and to leverage your personal and business brand and build your legacy. This is an area that I see a big opportunity for women to leverage that they don’t have time for or not sure how to toot their own horn. I can help them do this.
Over the past four years, I have hosted 40-plus events featuring influencers, leaders in diverse industries to share their expertise and stories of success. We look to add a program for business owners who want to scale their businesses in a MasterMind format. Stay tuned.
As women are challenged for time, we created opportunities for women to connect online and in person. We invite our members to join our monthly mentorship call to further connect with members and to take home a nugget and have a peek at how valuable our program would be for them to participate as a mentor/protégé and also a private Facebook group.
We have also launched a Transformational Soul Migration Safari to Kenya, July 2019, for those women interested in transformational experience. We are attracting business leaders, visionaries and thought leaders who want to up their game and deepen their purpose. We are attracting business leaders who lead with purpose and want to make an impact in the community. Every membership purchased enables us to continue to grow our network nationally.
Lastly, we are taking action to move the needle and welcoming men to the conversation.
CB: What specific challenges do female entrepreneurs face that men don’t?
Kretschmer: Firstly, one of the number one barriers female entrepreneurs face is financial constraints, accessing financing to grow and scale businesses. I cannot tell you how many announcements I have seen for millions of dollars to support female entrepreneurs. However, female entrepreneurs are still struggling. Where is the capital?
As per the Canadian – United States Council for Advancement of Women, women’s participation in banking, investment and venture capitalism has grown over the past decade however wide gender disparity still exists in funding women-led businesses. Why? Banks are often reluctant to finance small retail and service-sector businesses because they view them as a relatively high risk with little collateral to offer.
Companies run by men received 16 times more funding that their female-run counterparts. Women-owned businesses are also likely to be rejected for bank loans. The report also shows that women have more limited networks than men in the financial community, making it difficult to tap into sources of large scale-capital.
I believe they should utilize organizations such as Canadian Business Chicks as vehicles to reach the female entrepreneurs who need the support. We are frontline, have built the relationships and know firsthand the struggles and challenges of female entrepreneurs. It is disappointing, to say the least as women need access to capital to grow and scale their businesses. I look forward to leading conversations across Canada to share the report and how men can SupportHER in business in 2018-2019.
Secondly, with the recent publicity around the #MeToo movement, the sexual harassment in the workplace has placed greater barriers on mentorship. Men are more reluctant to mentor women or feel uncomfortable working alone with women. This is a massive step back.
To move the needle, we need to encourage gender parity, embrace men and women working together and foster mentorship and opportunities where men champion women for leadership roles. To act, we have launched SupportHER to elevate the men who empower women in their network, community and workplace. We want to visibly elevate the men who embrace diversity in their organizations. Male champions genuinely believe in fairness, gender equality and the development of talent in their organizations.
Our SupportHER Membership provides the opportunity to fuel more conversations, make a movement. It’s in this moment where men and women need to collaborate and unite on achievable goals for the future. I believe that to make a change, we need to invite men to the table and let them know how they can support us and elevate the men that are champions for women to raise the bar for others to follow.
Our goal this year from Women of Inspiration on September 20 tis o have men show they SupportHER and purchase tables to be in the room. Bring their team and embrace diversity in their organization. Men and women can be powerful allies; they want to support and participate, we just have to provide them with the tools to make it happen.
CB: What are the key factors women must focus on in order to achieve success in the business world?
Kretschmer: To achieve success, I believe that you must be willing to take risks and embrace failure as lessons. You need to be laser-focused on your big juicy vision and be willing to go big or go home. You must have a tough skin and be willing to use your voice for both what you want and for help. You must be willing to step outside the comfort zone, participate in the conversation and take all feedback as an opportunity to grow.
I also believe that you must embrace evolving and love to learn. Lastly, surround yourself with a positive environment, get yourself a mentor, pay it forward to share your knowledge and lead with purpose.
– Mario Toneguzzi