The Rhyze Project

The Rhyze Project - Cultivating Women's Entrepreneurial Spirit

The Rhyze Project cultivates the entrepreneurial spirit of women in Guelph and Wellington County

This collaborative project provides learning, mentorship and networking opportunities to help women build financial capital, business skills, peer networks and confidence. The Rhyze Project is currently developing programming to support women, no matter their career path or stage.

Project Mission

To raise the number of women-owned businesses in Guelph and Wellington County to 30% by 2025, generating prosperous communities and improved wellbeing for all who work and live within the region.

Project Vision

A resilient, holistic and collaborative community that shares, supports, benefits from, and aids in the development of resources that cultivate women’s entrepreneurial spirit in our region.

About the Project Name

The Rhyze Project is inspired by the rhizome, a root system that some plants use to grow. While the roots of most plants generally point downward, the rhizome grows horizontally underground. The rhizome sends shoots up from its nodes, growing what appear to be many separate plants. These seemingly unrelated individual plants are actually all connected through a system that’s not immediate visible to the eye. Rhizomes are resilient and determined: just like women. We know you’ll agree that this metaphor is a fitting description of the mission and vision for The Rhyze Project.

Upcoming Events

    • blog-Ignite-2017_020817
    • imposter-series-blog-ORL
    • Rhyze Award 2016

Project Milestones

March 2014 – Innovation Guelph announced it would lead a collaborative project titled the Women’s Economic Advancement Project to create new opportunities for women business owners and entrepreneurs. IG was able to pursue this project thanks to a $149,000 grant from the federal Ministry of Status of Women.
May – September 2014 – In the first phase, the project team undertook research to understand the issues, barriers and challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and would-be entrepreneurs. We assessed and inventoried local program and gaps, and heard from women about their experiences, expectations, strengths and needs. This phase of the project engaged more than 300 women from across Ontario.
October 2014 – February 2015 – Through small group and community conversations, we identified factors that contribute to women’s success, including the support systems that launch and propel their business ventures forward. We found that the drivers and barriers to women’s economic advancement can be characterized into three pillars: funding and finances; skills and networks; and work and life. Women also spoke clearly about the power of self-confidence, and the need to support this sense of confidence in themselves and each other.
March 2015

  • More than 400 people attended Ignite. Empower. Innovate – Exploring the Confidence Connection, Innovation Guelph’s 3rd annual International Women’s Day event and community celebration.
  • We launched the Ignite Award pitch competition, and a crowdfunding campaign to develop a fund for local women entrepreneurs.
  • The Ontario Trillium Foundation awarded a $225,000 grant to create additional pilot programs that build on the key findings from our initial research.
May 2015- The Ignite Award achieves its crowdfunding goal, raising $30,000 to fund local women entrepreneurs and business owners. Nearly 50 applications are submitted for the first Ignite Award pitch competition.
August 2015 – The culmination of multiple creative brainstorming sessions with advisory committee members and other key project partners, Women’s Economic Advancement Project rebrands with a new name and logo that captures the spirit of the initiative: The Rhyze Project.
September 2015 – The first Rhyze Award Pitch Competition is held. Nine local women entrepreneurs selected from nearly 50 applicants pitch for more than $20,000 in cash awards, mentoring and professional services. Top prizes were awarded to ReFresh Juice Co., Guelph Community Acupuncture and the Children’s Art Factory. All finalists receive 10 hours of mentoring from Innovation Guelph to develop their business.
Imposter Film Series
October 2015 – In partnership with Miller Thomson, the Rhyze Project launches The Imposter Syndrome Film Series – connecting local women in conversation about women’s issues and rights, confidence and economic empowerment to encourage authenticity, ownership and support of our success.

Project Successes

Since launching in March 2014, The Rhyze Project has helped to grow local dialogue on women’s entrepreneurship, economic empowerment, and institutionalized and systemic barriers to women’s career success. Here are some of the results of our efforts:

Financial support and mentorship for local women entrepreneurs

In September 2015, we awarded more than $20,000 in cash, mentoring and professional services to local entrepreneurs and business owners through The Rhyze Award – the first program to emerge from research completed during the early phases of the Rhyze Project.

Developing relationships with existing women’s networks

Through community forums, speaking events, meetings and conferences, we’ve built and strengthened partnerships at local, regional and provincial levels to help identify, design and develop the resources that are currently missing Guelph and Wellington County.

Inspiring new local initiatives

Inspired by their participation in International Women’s Day event in 2014, a group of local women created the Guelph-based chapter of 100 Women Who Care, a quarterly event that has raised more than $30,000 for local charities and created a network of women collaborating for community change.

Project News

    • innovation guelph rhyze on the road logo
    • blog-Ignite-2017_020817
    • Rhyze Award 2016

The Rhyze Project is on Twitter!

Follow @therhyzeproject for project updates, events and entrepreneurial news!

Get involved!

If you’re interested in joining the project, please complete the form and we’ll be in touch with participation opportunities.
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Project Partners


The Rhyze Project is made possible through funding from:

Status of Women Canada
Ontario Trillium Foundation
Miller Thompson

The Imposter Complex Film Series

and Founding Sponsor

Meridian Credit Union