Attention all women entrepreneurs! ELLA is accepting applications

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The Entrepreneurial Leadership & Learning Alliance (ELLA) program, led by York University in partnership with the Small Business Enterprise Centers of Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and York Region, will launch in 2020 with a mission to reduce the gap of gender inequality in entrepreneurship. The unique program, built for women and by women, is now ready to accept applications.

“ELLA is a unique ecosystem of entrepreneurs, partners, mentors and experts who believe in our mission and want to help us elevate women founders,” said Sarah Howe, director of Innovation York.

This program is ideal if you:

  • are an entrepreneur who identifies as a woman (50 per cent or more of your business is owned by women);
  • own a company with sales and initial traction;
  • have an organization that is for profit, non-profit or a social business;
  • are ready to hustle and grow your business;
  • are open to feedback and new ideas;
  • want to be part of an outstanding community of women; and/or
  • are available to join daytime programming in York Region.
This one-of-a-kind program, which provides women entrepreneurs with a unique opportunity, will help to elevate women founders
How does the program work?

The ELLA Accelerator Program is a free, six-month training and support program for women entrepreneurs. It includes:

  • mentoring with personalized support;
  • hands-on workshops with an emphasis on sales and marketing;
  • leadership training and opportunities to learn from the experts – experienced entrepreneurs and industry specialists; and
  • an outstanding community and network.
The ELLA Program offers hands-on workshops, mentoring opportunities and leadership training

“Participants will have access to experts that will offer a safe space to talk about business and personal challenges,” Aïko Thurlow, entrepreneurial program advisor, explains. “You are not alone on this journey and you’ll see how exciting it is to work with peers who truly get you. Being part of ELLA means that you’ll have access to a plethora of brilliant investors, inspiring entrepreneurs and much more.”

The timelines involving the Accelerator Program are illustrated in the chart below. Applications open now (November 2019); and 70 women entrepreneurs will be selected in January 2020 for Phase 1, which is geared towards early- to mid-stage entrepreneurs. This phase of the program will start in March 2020.

In August 2020, 25 women will graduate from Phase 1 to Phase 2. This second phase is designed for advanced entrepreneurs. It will run from September to December 2020.

The ELLA Accelerator Program is divided into two phases – one for early- to mid-stage entrepreneurs; another for advanced entrepreneurs


Application process closes Jan. 15, 2020

The ELLA program is accepting applications from now until Jan. 15, 2020. To learn more about ELLA and apply to the program, visit the website.

ELLA is funded by the Government of Canada as part of the first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a $2-billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.

In August 2019, York received nearly $2 million ($1,868,400) to develop and deliver the Fempower program, retitled ELLA, to support women entrepreneurs by providing business education and resources, female-centred advice and real solutions for overcoming barriers; by making introductions; and by opening doors to opportunities. York was one of nine entities bestowed with this highly competitive funding.

To learn more about the government funding, visit the website.