Minister Leitch announces expert panel on championing and mentorship for women entrepreneurs

Harper Government continues promoting economic and leadership opportunities for Canadian women TORONTO,

/CNW/ – Wednesday, the Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, announced the members of her Expert Panel on Championing and Mentorship for Women Entrepreneurs. The Minister was accompanied by members of the Panel for the announcement, which was hosted by the Entrepreneurship Hatchery at the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering at the University of Toronto.

The Minister noted that while progress has been made advancing more women into positions of economic leadership across Canada in recent years, women remain under-represented as a proportion of small and medium-sized business owners in the Canadian economy. She added that championing and mentorship can play an important role supporting women entrepreneurs.

The mandate of the Expert Panel is to advise the Minister on: best practices for mentorship and championing to support women entrepreneurs to expand their business and access international markets; and on the financial tools required for women entrepreneurs to succeed.

The panel will be meeting with a cross section of Canadian business leaders and entrepreneurs. The panel is expected to submit its recommendations to the Minister this fall.

The Expert Panel members (biographies below) are:

  • Arlene Dickinson (Chair)
  • Carolyn Cross (Member)
  • Sandra Bosela (Member)
  • Marissa McTasney (Member)
  • Ron Close (Member)

Quick Facts

  • Research suggests that 88% of entrepreneurs with mentors survive in business, compared with a 50% failure rate without a mentor.
  • In 2011, women held majority ownership of 15.6% of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.
  • RBC Economics reports that as of 2011, the contribution of majority-owned women’s businesses to the Canadian economy was an estimated $148 billion.
  • RBC estimates that a 10% increase in the number of majority-owned women’s businesses over 10 years would bring the total economic contribution to $198 billion – a net annual gain of $15 billion after inflation.
  • According to BMO Financial Group, women-owned businesses employ over 1.5 million Canadians.
  • Economic Action Plan 2014 outlined the Government’s commitment to increasing mentorship among women entrepreneurs.


“Our Government knows that all of Canada benefits when women-led businesses succeed. These businesses help create jobs and growth in communities across our country. I look forward to working with the Expert Panel to identify best practices for championing and mentorship of women entrepreneurs, and the financial tools they require to succeed.” – The Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women

“We know that championing and mentorship can turn a promising business into a successful business. That’s why I am confident that the work of this Expert Panel will make a tremendous difference by helping to identify innovative tools and best practices that can support women-led businesses, whether they are start-ups or looking to grow.” – Arlene Dickinson, Chair – Expert Panel, CEO of Venture Communications and

“We are pleased to host the launch of the Government of Canada’s new Expert Panel that will help identify innovative ways of providing mentoring support to women entrepreneurs. It will provide one more key ingredient to help women entrepreneurs launch and grow innovative companies that can build a more prosperous future.” – Cristina Amon, Dean, Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, University of Toronto


Biographical Notes – Expert Panel on Championing and Mentorship for Women Entrepreneurs

Arlene Dickinson – Chair Arlene Dickinson, a judge on the hit CBC TV show Dragons’ Den, is the owner and CEO of Venture Communications, a company she grew from a small, local firm to one of the largest independent agencies in Canada. Ms. Dickinson is also the CEO of, a company she founded in 2012 that serves and invests in entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial lifestyle. Her leadership has been recognized with honours including Canada’s Most Powerful Women Top 100, the Pinnacle Award for Entrepreneurial Excellence, as well as PROFIT and Chatelaine’s Top 100 Women Business Owners. A mother of four and grandmother of five, she supports many important causes. This includes her role as national spokesperson for The Breakfast Clubs of Canada since 2010.

Sandra Bosela, OP Trust – Member Sandra Bosela is Co-Group Head, Managing Director and Global Head of Private Equity at OPTrust Private Markets Group where she is responsible for managing OPSEU Pension Trust’s (OPTrust) global private equity program. Ms. Bosela served previously as President and Managing Partner at EdgeStone Capital Partners Inc.. Prior to that, she worked in the Investment Banking Group at National Bank Financial and focused on mergers and acquisitions. She has been an active member of various Boards of Directors of corporate and not-for-profit organizations. Ms. Bosela holds an Honors Business Administration degree from Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario, and completed the General Management Program at the Harvard Business School.

Carolyn Cross, Ondine Biomedical – Member Carolyn Cross is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ondine Biomedical Inc., a Vancouver based medical devices company. She also is a Board Member and Treasurer of the International Photodynamic Association. Earlier in her career, Ms. Cross was Vice President with Royal Bank Investment Management Inc., the fund management arm of the Royal Bank of Canada. She is currently serving as a Board Member of the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Advisory Board of McGill University Dental School and The Vimy Foundation. She is the Chairman and Founding Board Member of the Women’s Economic Business Advisory Council. She is a Founding Member of the Ernst & Young Global Women in Business Advisory Council.

Marissa McTasney, Moxie Trades – Member Marissa McTasney is the Founder and President of Moxie Trades Ltd., a leading company in the safety footwear industry. The company’s first product was the iconic Pink Work Boot. Today, it offers a complete line of safety footwear, apparel and hardware accessories made exclusively for women and distributed throughout North America. Ms. McTasney is an Executive Producer of One Red Lipstick, a documentary showcasing women entrepreneurs. Moxie Trades also highlights women through the Moxiest Work Woman contest and Durham’s Woman of the Year. She is highly involved in her community with regular contributions to various organizations such as Girls Inc., and local chapters of the Women’s Build Programs for Habitat for Humanity. Ms. McTasney is an advocate for women in skilled trades and in business.

Ron Close, Seasoned Board Director, CEO, Educator, and Entrepreneur – Member Ron Close has had a distinguished career in Canadian broadcasting and media, working with some of this country’s leading companies. He was previously “The John R. Currie Executive Entrepreneur-in-Residence” at The Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario. He has served on several boards including The Globe and Mail, Canada Media Fund, MaRS Innovation and Cogniciti. He holds an HBA degree from the Ivey School of Business.

SOURCE Status of Women Canada