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.
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.
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.