As part of our purpose commitment to Boldly Grow the Good in Business and in Life, BMO invited women business owners across Canada to apply for one of 12 grants by sharing their high-level business growth plans. Grant Recipients were selected by an expert panel of judges after their applications were reviewed 4 times over 3 rounds of judging. A total of $150,000 in grants was awarded: 1 grant of $20,000, 4 grants of $15,000 and 7 grants of $10,000.
We are pleased to announce and introduce you to the 12 recipients of the 2022 BMO Celebrating Women Grant Program!
These women business owners come from across the country with a diverse representation of age, ethnicity and even primary language spoken.
Meet our Recipients!
$20,000 Grant Recipient
Coreen McCusker – Muttz With Mannerz
Corey’s passion for helping humans and dogs excel led her to take a leap of faith and leave her corporate job in 2006 to start two coaching companies. Corey works with business leaders & high-performance teams, as well as canines.
Corey opened bricks and mortar Muttz with Mannerz Canine Academy in 2019 in Stouffville. The 3000 square foot facility supports pet parents with services of training, daycare and grooming. The goal is to expand to become the Premiere Canine Academy of choice for York Region.
“Being a BMO grant recipient was a much-needed boost not only financially to help growth but also mentally as it has given me the confidence to go to the distance and take us to the next level-THANK YOU for your support!”
$15,000 Grant Recipients
Marlène Hutchinson – Evnia firme-conseil en écofiscalité inc.
Following my master’s degree in research-type environment, I founded my consulting firm: Evnia, which I have managed for 17 years. I have carried out numerous mandates to improve the management of residual materials in private companies, institutions and municipalities. Today, my firm focuses on environmental compliance, particularly ecofees. Our in-depth program knowledge, combined with our calculation and data collection methodology, allows us to reduce overall management costs, identify potential savings and ensure that companies pay the right amounts, at the right time and at the right times.
“Receiving this grant will help us achieve our B-Corp certification faster while continuing to grow!”
Monique Hutson – Dom Productions
Monique graduated from one of the top digital media universities in Canada with her Bachelors of Journalism, and spent four years working in content marketing for multiple corporations. While working full-time, she also freelanced for other businesses. But flaws in the industry caused her to lean wholeheartedly into entrepreneurship.
Monique’s mission is to use Dom Productions to give more women and women-of-colour a seat at the table, as she experienced imbalances in race and gender in the media and marketing industries.
“This grant goes beyond me (Monique) or Dom Productions; This grant is a vote for inclusivity in the media and marketing industries. It means I can give more women and women-of-colour the opportunity to work, grow and succeed in a field that lacks diverse voices. I’m so thankful that I have these funds now to assist me in recruitment and upgrading my production skills”
Arielle Lok & Sang Le – Peko Produce
Vancouver, British Columbia
Peko is building Canada’s #1 online grocery marketplace that delivers “peculiar” or surplus groceries at up to 40% off retail prices. We’re on a mission to fight food waste and promote access to affordable, healthy food. Peko was first started as a passion project by Sang Le & Arielle Lok to reduce food waste. The company has now grown to become a thriving business, rescuing over 200,000lbs of produce & pantry goods, saving Canadians over $750,000+ on their grocery bills. Peko currently services all of Metro Vancouver and is looking to expand to other provinces.
“Receiving the BMO Celebrating Women Grant completely changes our strategy for 2023 – it has created room to experiment, expand, and ultimately scale our business to the next level!”
Dr. Stephanie Van Deynze-Snell and Dr. Samyra Stuart-Altman – Central Veterinary Corporation
Oak Bluff – Manitoba
The Central Vet team is on a mission to improve lives – of our team members, clients, patients and members of the community. Dr. Stephanie Van Deynze-Snell and Dr. Samyra Stuart-Altman, along with their partner, Dr. Dave Snell, are proud of what they are accomplishing at Central Veterinary Services, a veterinary clinic located just outside Winnipeg, servicing various species such as dogs, cats, horses, cows and more. The leadership team is 85% female, giving a fresh perspective and drive to disrupt dated systems that no longer work for today’s workforce.
“Central Vet’s mission is to improve lives and receiving this grant will allow us to directly accomplish this goal by contributing to the development of digital platforms that will help us streamline operations, and leave us more time to focus on the important work we do in helping animals and their caregivers.”
$10,000 Grant Recipients
Catherine Clemerson & Caita Baioff – Stitch Happens
The founders of Stitch Happens are Catherine Clemerson and Caita Baioff, a mother-daughter duo with extensive experience in fashion and costume design. They opened Stitch Happens in the fall of 2020 amidst the pandemic as they had many requests for sewing lessons while everyone searched for solitary hobbies.
The store carries a variety of textiles, including environmentally conscious, athletic, and silk fabrics, all carefully selected to help sewists create beautiful and sustainable clothing. Classes are also available for beginner to professional level sewists, making it the perfect destination for anyone looking to improve their skills or learn something new.
“This grant will allow us to continue expanding our offering of high-quality fabrics and expand our classroom to more students. We are so thankful to BMO for this opportunity!”
Kim Deschamps – Holistic Physiotherapy and Wellness
I am passionate about collaborative healthcare and advocating for providing people with the opportunity to share their whole health story. When we slow down, tune into the present moment and provide someone with the opportunity to share their story fully, this is when we can truly identify what their body, heart, mind and soul are trying to tell us and why they are sitting in front of us asking for help. This passion is what fueled the creation of Holistic Physiotherapy & Wellness, an integrative healthcare clinic that believes in community, empowerment and collaboration. We have a variety of multi-disciplinary health services all under one roof that all focused on supporting women.
“When your entrepreneurial journey has been recognized for high-level business growth, it shocks you to pause and reflect on every moment of adversity and how each of those moments led to so many celebrations, both big and small.”
Janet Hiebert – Samsara Cycle
Vancouver, British Columbia
Samsara Cycle’s founder, Janet Hiebert grew up riding her bike around Vancouver. Amongst her network of friends all were cycling – both indoor and outdoor. When she took up both, there was a quick recognition of a lack of flattering, tasteful yet technical apparel options. As one who appreciates fashion and design, she wanted her on-bike look to reflect her off-bike style. Out of a personal need, Samsara Cycle was born.
Cycling has historically been a male-dominated pursuit that can feel exclusive and intimidating. Our founder wanted to provide support and inspiration with flattering cycling apparel exclusively for women that they would be excited to wear and get out and ride more often.
“Being chosen to receive this grant makes me feel recognized and validated for the work that myself and my team have put into building this brand. We are a women-owned and women-run company and we have shown that a commitment to a dream and to goals if backed with integrity and hard work will be rewarded. I’m very honoured to have been selected as a recipient of this grant.”
Lubaina Rakla – LIVA
Lubaina Rakla created LIVA out of a desire to find a healthy organic and whole-food alternative to traditional sugar. Her personal health struggle inspired extensive research eventually discovering that date sugar was hailed as one of the healthiest sugar alternatives because of it’s rich stores of fibre, antioxidants and other nutrients. Determined to bring the benefits of dates as a sweetener to Canada so she could share both its delicious sweet taste and its nutritional healing power, Lubaina put the wheels in motion that would bring LIVA to life.
LIVA’s products include, date sugar, date powder and our popular date syrup; all are highly regarded for your favourite recipes.
“This $10,000.00 grant from BMO provides funds for both content creation and advertising to encourage adoption and repeat business. LIVA knows the profile of our users “health-conscious foodies” and as such we will continue to develop targeted communication and quality products with lifetime value to our customers. ”
Rebecca Mazzara – Calita Intimates
Calita Intimates is a Canadian Made women’s underwear company thoughtfully designed with women’s bodies and comfort in mind. As a teenager, like many, founder Rebecca Mazzara found herself more prone to vaginal infections. Roughly 300 million women around the world suffer from these types of infections each year. A big part of what causes yeast, vaginal, or bladder infection is the synthetic fabrics and the harmful chemicals found in undergarments and feminine care products. Growing up, Rebecca struggled to find underwear that checked all the boxes: comfortable, breathable, and flattering. This challenge and clear gap in the market is what inspired Rebecca to create Calita Intimates.
“Receiving this grant is an honour and will give us the boost we need to reach a wider audience, and grow our product offering.”
Nikky Starrett – Pomp & Sass
Our story is one of resilience, optimism and ingenuity. In the beginning, Nikky was a textile designer with ambitions of launching a product line. After overcoming infertility, the pregnancy with their daughter Fern cured them of a disabling neurological syndrome. Nikky soon chose to further pursue their ambition of entrepreneurialism with the goal of positive impact. Our first towel, the fern, honors Nikkys daughter Fern and has been our flagship style. Despite a catastrophic failure to launch on March 30th 2020, Nikky rebuilt the business while working as an educator. Pomp & Sass now offers a novel product within the branded merchandise space with full service customization. Clients who need branded merchandise are able to have their brand, location or service illustrated with the line art that we develop, woven into the fabric of our plastic free towels.
“The BMO grant will support Pomp & Sass to establish new corporate relationships that will secure our future while enabling us to stay true to our core pillars of sustainability and ethical manufacturing.”
Brooke Woboditsch – Closed Caption Services (CCS)
Brooke Woboditsch (she/her) is an Indigenous-mixed settler media and broadcast professional with a vision to build better accessibility in media. In addition to being a mother, wife and musician, Brooke is Chief Executive Officer and owner of Closed Caption Services (CCS) in Kingston, Ontario. CCS is a vibrant business that provides high quality accessibility services to broadcasters, municipalities, educational and financial institutions as well as content producers, filmmakers and more.
“The BMO Women in Business grant is helping CCS accelerate our mission to make media accessible to everyone, everywhere.”