Program for women business owners receives funding boost from FedDev Ontario


TORONTO, August 25, 2020 – York University’s Entrepreneurial Leadership and Learning Alliance program for women business owners – ELLA – has received top-up funding from the Government of Canada to establish a new program to help female business owners who are facing barriers to expansion.

The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund investment of $281,600, delivered through FedDev Ontario, will be used to create a new Fractional Executive Program that will enable participants in ELLA’s Altitude program to hire a professional to deliver a specific program or solve a specific problem, in order to accelerate the company’s growth.

Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade joined York University Vice President Research & Innovation Amir Asif and Lucrezia Spanolo, Founder of Vesta Social Innovation Technologies, to announce top-up funding for ELLA program.

The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced the funding this afternoon. This investment builds on an initial $1.86 million in federal funding for ELLA announced last summer, bringing federal investment in the ELLA program to more than $2.1 million.

“We understand the challenges businesses are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and those challenges can be amplified for women entrepreneurs,” said Ng. “Today’s investment for ELLA through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund top-up will help our women-led businesses to weather these challenging times while preparing for future success.”

“Economists and leading philanthropists agree about the importance of increasing the diversity of entrepreneurs to keep Canada competitive including the representation of women,” says Rhonda L. Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor of York University. “The Government of Canada’s investment in York University’s ELLA program is a vote of confidence in this innovative program that supports women entrepreneurs in Ontario. It will empower these women to take their businesses global reflecting on the context created by the pandemic and enhancing the benefits for ELLA participants, their families and their communities.”

Ten women entrepreneurs will be chosen to take part in the four-month ELLA Altitude program, which will begin in October.

“Many applicants need help reaching customers through different channels than they used before the COVID-19 pandemic,” said ELLA Entrepreneurship Manager Nicole Troster. “The Altitude program will enable them to turn to seasoned professionals for help with specific challenges such as, for example, selling through digital channels. It  will build on the business skills they are already employing.”

York University champions new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-disciplinary programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 25 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 300,000 alumni.

York U's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

Media Contact: Janice Walls, York University Media Relations, 416-455-4710,