Guest Blog: Women entrepreneurs poised to launch their first businesses

On May 30, 2018, Bridges for Women Society alongside Community Micro Lending Society, welcomed family, friends and community supporters to celebrate 12 new entrepreneurs who successfully completed four months of self-employment training. This program is the only one of its kind in our community, providing trauma-informed curriculum sensitive to the diverse needs of women healing from trauma.

The ceremony included educational and inspiring business presentations from each graduate. Businesses launching soon include: acupuncture and reiki services; online digital products and photography; First Nations crafts; visual arts and specialized crafts; journaling workshops; doula and birth preparation service and sustainable farming.

Let a 2018 graduate tell you more about this program through this Q&A.

1. Why is Bridges for Women and self-employment important to you?

I was motivated to apply to the Bridges self-employment program because I had attended their employment program and mentor program in the past and discovered their trauma-informed & non-oppressive practices provided the balm I needed to be able to make choices free from the legacy of childhood trauma.  The Bridges Employment Program helped me decide to pursue a career as an acupuncturist and then to follow through in gaining an acupuncture diploma and then to become a Registered Acupuncturist in BC.  Recently, the Self-Employment Program has supported me in creating a business plan to start my own Chinese & Energy Medicine Clinic as well as assisted me in other aspects of getting my business started. 

Self- employment is important to me because it gives me the independence I need to better be able to create a working environment that nourishes and supports my own health.  

2. What was most valuable about this program?

What has been so valuable is 1) that the staff are trauma-informed 2) the opportunity to be united with other women who are in process of envisioning and transforming their own lives.

Impacts I’ve noticed include veils of shame and fear  that have previously interfered with starting my own business, are now in many ways seem lifted & the barriers significantly reduced.

3. What are your hopes for yourself as an entrepreneur in Victoria?

That I will use the strengths and skills I have to start and operate a clinic that will contribute the health of individuals and the community while allowing me to sustain myself financially.

4.How would you describe the Bridges’ Self-Employment Program?

I would definitely refer this program to others. I would say it is a safe place to connect with your own vision and goals and a wonderful organization and community of women that will support you into bringing your vision and goals into reality. It is a home that you can return to as needed.

5. What would you like to share about the value of this trauma-informed program tailored specifically for women?

I see Bridges as a rare and precious place that is the embodiment of Anne Wilson Schaef’s words “we have hidden within the very fabric of our social and cultural existence, groups of people – women and indigenous people – who, sometimes even unbeknownst to them, have, because of their oppression, clues of ways to transform the human race and the planet…We will be led into the solution by the wisdom of those who have had little or no voice in creating the dominant system that is universally destroying the planet.”

Thanks to the Victoria Foundation, this year marked the program’s fourth delivery in the Greater Victoria area. With a waitlist for future offerings, we see a clear need for this program and so we look forward to future funding to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs in our community.

Carrie Everett is a Program Coordinator and Facilitator with Bridges for Women Society.