Tuesday, February 28 was a stormy winter day, but the Business Sisters Centre officially opened during a ribbon cutting ceremony at 213 Main St. N. in Alexandria. With 20 cm of snow on the ground, Federal, United County and Township dignitaries, economic development agency representatives and advisory board members joined Desjardins officials and women business owners to celebrate the momentous occasion.
The Centre is co-located with the Francophone cultural center, Le Centre Culturel Les Trois P’tits Points in a bright and spacious office, across from Glengarry District High School. The building happens to belong to Lynda Turner, founder of Fauxmagerie Zengarry, an innovative and celebrated business in our area.
With a $100,000 contribution from Desjardins’ Community Development Fund, Business Sisters now has a permanent home to offer one-on-one advisory sessions, along with workshops and networking events. This opening makes good on the third goal announced in August after the organization received the funding.
“This is very much a dream come true,” said, Business Sisters Founder and Executive Director, Doreen Ashton Wagner. “We had been working on a proposal for a collaborative workspace in late 2019. We had pitched the project to Desjardins just before the pandemic changed the world, in March 2020,” she added. Fortunately for the organization, Desjardins was a willing and highly supportive partner, with values aligning closely with those of the social enterprise: to support women business owners, who were disproportionately affected during the pandemic, and who continue to struggle to access social and business support, especially in rural areas.
As she took to the podium Desjardins Regional Vice-President (Ottawa Region) Chantal Lajoie declared, “Women are taking over Main Street. Ms. Lajoie was a strong supporter of Business Sisters from the first Conference in 2018. She is correct about women entrepreneurs driving development in rural areas; an informal Business Sisters survey has found that as many as 80% of independent businesses in rural Eastern Ontario are owned, or co-owned by women. These businesses are what make small towns and villages more livable. Business Sisters aims to help them maximize the vibrancy of their communities.
Business Sisters wishes to thank The Glengarry News, the Review, and The Seeker for their reporting of the event, and their support in spreading the word about its resources and services.
To visit the Centre, please book an appointment with Doreen Ashton Wagner by clicking here.