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NEWS RELEASE

Women’s Equity Lab Toronto Fund 3 Closes Initial Round of Fundraising

Women’s Equity Lab Toronto has closed an initial round of fundraising for Fund III.

Launched in 2017 as a non-profitable organization, Victoria, BC-based Women’s Equity Lab has spun off 16 funds, including 9 in BC (Victoria & Vancouver), 3 in Ontario (Toronto) and 1 each in Manitoba and Atlantic region, and 2 Venture Capital Corporations (VCCs).

Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) is a fun, collaborative and empowering way for women to actively engage in early-stage investing.

Launched in 2017, we now make up a diverse and powerful network of 350+ women investors, with syndicates located in Victoria, Vancouver, Toronto, Manitoba, the Atlantic and Silicon Valley.

Actively engaging women in the angel investment process translates into more women as advisors, board members, venture capitalists, angel investors and angel fund managers.

Women’s Equity Lab is one of the 25 partners collaborating with BDC’s $100 million Thrive Lab to support women-led social impact businesses. At first phase, BDC intends to co-invest, alongside partners from across Canada, up to $35 million in businesses at the earliest stages of development.

Source: https://privatecapitaljournal.com/womens-equity-lab-toronto-iii-closes-initial-round-of-fundraising/

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NEWS RELEASE

Empowering Women-Led Social Impact Businesses: Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) Partners with BDC’s $100M Thrive Lab to Co-Invest Alongside 25 Canadian Partners.

Empowering Women-Led Social Impact Businesses: Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) Partners with BDC’s $100M Thrive Lab to Co-Invest Alongside 25 Canadian Partners.

Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) is excited to be one of the 25 partners collaborating with BDC’s $100M Thrive Lab to support women-led social impact businesses. This initiative’s first phase will co-invest, alongside partners from across Canada, up to $35M in businesses at the earliest stages of development, where they face the most challenges in fundraising.

Below is the official news release from BDC detailing the specifics of this collaborative partnership:

Ottawa – November 14, 2023 – After building the one-of-a-kind, $100 million Thrive Lab over the past nine months, BDC is now providing equity and equity-like investments, plus training and support, for at least 100 ambitious, women-led businesses committed to delivering solutions to some of our most pressing social issues.

The Lab’s first phase will co-invest, alongside 25 partners from across Canada, up to $35 million in businesses at the earliest stages of development, where they face the most challenges in fundraising.

“Women entrepreneurs are underrepresented and underfunded. BDC aims to change that, and the fastest and most impactful way to deliver on that change is to work with organizations already rolling up their sleeves to support emerging women-led and social impact companies. We realized we could bolster their expertise and resources, without duplicating what they already do exceptionally well, and get critical funding into the hands of inspirational women at the speed of their business,” said Sévrine Labelle, Managing Director, Thrive Lab.

The first 25 partners who will co-invest alongside BDC are changemakers for emerging companies. They are a mix of accelerators, incubators, angels, and family offices that are the first to provide support and write investment cheques. They were chosen based on their track record of supporting women entrepreneurs or their expertise in social impact, their capacity to deliver resources, and ability to reach women where they are across Canada, including in underserved communities.

“Working together, our goal is to ensure each company is surrounded by a strong syndicate of partners. Partners who are fully committed to ensuring each company has the capital and resources required to succeed financially and deliver the positive social impact they intended. Ultimately, the Thrive Lab will build a pipeline of future female leaders who will redefine what good investing and entrepreneurship looks like,” added Sévrine.

To bring as much support to women entrepreneurs as possible, the Lab also looks for opportunities outside of traditional investment deals to bring together investors and partners. Pitch competitions are one examples of how the Lab is drawing in a larger pool of investors. At StartupFest in Montreal, Ora Medical won the $100,000 Women in Tech prize presented by The Firehood. BDC’s Thrive Lab offered to match the prize and any audience investment. As a result, co-founder and CEO, Sarah Lambert, walked away with over $300,000 in commitments.

“Securing funding in today’s challenging market requires the backing of an entire ecosystem that believes in your vision and goals. Fortunately, the support system for underrepresented communities is strengthening, thanks in part to initiatives like Thrive Lab and The Firehood,” added Lambert. “Additionally, the endorsement from BDC, a respected institutional investor, along with our other committed partners, has been instrumental in opening numerous opportunities for us. As a result of this collaborative effort, we are now on the verge of closing an even larger funding round.”

BDC has earmarked $35M for the first phase. To be eligible a business must be women-led, making a measurable positive impact tied to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (such as food security and responsible agriculture, health and well-being, education, reduced inequalities, and responsible consumption and production), be actively raising capital, and be nominated by a Thrive Lab partner.

Working collaboratively, the Lab is designed to experiment and adapt. Developing new ways of providing support, always in line with the needs of women-led businesses. The second phase will build on learnings from this initiative and ongoing feedback from partners and women entrepreneurs.

The Thrive Lab is part of BDC’s $500M Thrive Platform. Announced in Fall 2022, it is the largest investment platform in the world supporting women-led businesses and includes three components: the $300M Thrive Venture Fund, a $100M Indirect Investment Envelope, and the $100M Thrive Lab.

Thrive Lab’s partners are:

  • The51
  • Women’s Equity Lab
  • The Firehood
  • SheBoot
  • Raven Indigenous Capital Partners
  • CEIM
  • YSpace, Université York
  • DMZ
  • Genesis Centre
  • Anges Québec
  • Evol
  • Spring Activator
  • Good & Well
  • Cycle Momentum
  • Mars Discovery District
  • University of Toronto Entrepreneurship
  • Centech
  • Yukonstruct
  • Zu
  • Esplanade Québec
  • Startup TNT
  • Telus Community Safety and Wellness
  • Accelerator
  • Propel
  • Front Row Ventures (FRV)
  • Volta Effect

About BDC

As Canada’s bank for entrepreneurs, BDC is a partner of choice for all entrepreneurs looking to access the financing and advice they need to build their businesses and tackle the big challenges of our time. Our investment arm, BDC Capital, offers a wide range of risk capital solutions to help grow the country’s most innovative firms. We are one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers and Canada’s Best Diversity Employers. For more information on BDC’s products and services and to consult free tools, templates and articles, visit bdc.ca or join BDC on social media.

About Women’s Equity Lab (WEL):

The Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) investing model was created to address the chronic and systemic underrepresentation of women in early-stage investing. By reducing the barriers to entry that have typically kept women out – gender bias, lack of previous investing experience, capital needed to get involved – our Learning On InvestmentTM (LOI) approach is designed to facilitate entry into this investment class. Launched in 2017, WEL now has a growing and powerful community of 350+ women investors and 35+ investments across Canada and in Silicon Valley. Our mission of “more female investor representation now, equal representation someday” continues. 

For more information about WEL and how to get involved, please visit www.womensequitylab.com or contact Stephanie Andrew at stephanie.andrew@womensequitylab.com

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NEWS RELEASE

Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) Atlantic fuels innovation with investments in three women-led businesses in just six months and more to come.

St. John’s, September 14th, 2023 – In just six short months since its inception, the WEL Atlantic angel fund has already made investments in three promising women-led businesses within the Atlantic provinces.

Founded with a mission to address the chronic and systemic underrepresentation of women in early stage investing, WEL has created opportunities for both new and experienced women investors. The WEL Atlantic Canadian Investment Group, which serves as a beacon of progress in this region, aligns with this vision and expects that a more diverse group of investors will lead to more diverse investment decisions. Additionally, by investing in women-led companies in the Atlantic provinces, the fund seeks to stimulate economic growth, promote gender diversity in leadership positions, and bridge the funding gap that has long hindered women in business. 

The Atlantic Canadian Investment Group’s recent investments in Hollo Medical (NS), Aurea (NS) and Uresta (NB) have garnered substantial attention, showcasing its commitment to fostering innovation and supporting female founders in the region. These investments reflect the fund’s dedication to creating a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Atlantic provinces.

“There was no shortage of quality companies that applied for funding. As a new fund, we are incredibly proud of the swift and impactful investments we were able to make in a short amount of time,” said Kathryn Lockhart, one of the Managing Partners. “These initial successes are a testament to the talent that exists within the Atlantic provinces, and we know there are many more incredible investment opportunities in Eastern Canada.”

Looking ahead, WEL Atlantic is poised to increase its impact in the region. The fund is gearing up to invest the remaining funds throughout the fall season and has exciting plans to launch a second fund in early 2024, which will provide even more opportunities for women entrepreneurs and investors in the region.

WEL Atlantic Investment Group’s first fund brought together close to 40 remarkable women investors who are passionate about driving positive change in the business world. Their dedication and expertise have played a pivotal role in the success of the fund and its investments. The organization is currently inviting more women to join this dynamic group of investors for fund 2 and be a part of the movement to support and elevate women entrepreneurs.

“We want to help build the next generation of women investors. We have a great mix of both experienced and new investors in fund 1 and have created many opportunities for everyone to learn and participate” said Andrea King, Managing Partner of WEL Atlantic. “By joining WEL Atlantic, you not only become a part of a powerful network but also contribute to the growth and success of women-led businesses in Atlantic Canada.”

For more information about WEL and how to get involved, please visit www.womensequitylab.com or contact Andrea King at andrea.kennedy.king@gmail.com

About Women’s Equity Lab (WEL):
The Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) investing model was created to address the chronic and systemic underrepresentation of women in early stage investing. By reducing the barriers to entry that have typically kept women out – gender bias, lack of previous investing experience, capital needed to get involved – our Learning On InvestmentTM (LOI) approach is designed to facilitate entry into this investment class. Launched in 2017, WEL now has a growing and powerful community of 350+ women investors and 35+ investments across Canada and in Silicon Valley. Our mission of “more female investor representation now, equal representation someday” continues. 

About WEL Atlantic:
With a focus on investing in women-led businesses in the Atlantic provinces, the organization aims to bridge the funding gap, promote gender diversity in leadership, and drive economic growth in the region. They are also committed to building up a network of local women investors. The Managing Partners are Lauren Ledwell, Laurie MacKeigan, Kathryn Lockhart, and Andrea King.
www.womensequitylab.com/locations/atlantic

WEL Atlantic’s Investments:
Hollo Medical
Hollo Medical was founded to reduce the burden of chronic respiratory diseases. Ninety percent of inhaler users do not receive the medication they need, and current solutions (chambers/spacers) are so bulky, that as little as ten percent use one! Hollo’s Bre-Z Chamber™ replaces cumbersome spacers with a device that can deliver more medication while fitting comfortably in a pocket.
www.hollomedical.com

Uresta
Uresta is a women’s health company with a game-changing solution for stress urinary incontinence (SUI). SUI is described as bladder leaks when a woman coughs, laughs, sneezes, or jumps and impacts 1 in 3 women. Uresta improves the quality of life of women with bladder leakage because it stops the leaks from happening vs. absorbing like a pad. Uresta is also reusable and available over the counter without a prescription. Uresta has been clinically proven to be safe and effective through multiple clinical studies and is cleared by Health Canada and the FDA.
www.uresta.com

Aurea Technologies
Aurea Technologies is a female-founded, cleantech startup that develops and manufactures portable renewable energy systems. The Shine Turbine (www.shineturbine.com), an ultra-portable wind turbine for charging handheld electronics, is their first consumer product. They are also developing the RISE Turbine (www.riseturbine.com), a portable wind energy system for defense markets.

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NEWS RELEASE

Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) Manitoba secures provincial exemption order from The Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC) to permit non-accredited investors to join early-stage venture fund

June 23, 2023

An innovative concept has resulted in the province’s first hybrid early-stage all-female investment fund, allowing non-accredited investors to join the angel investment ecosystem and participate and learn alongside accredited investors.

“We commend The Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC) for their leadership in working with WEL MB to provide the opportunity for more capital to be raised for entrepreneurs through the approved exemption for non-accredited investors” says Joelle Foster, co-founder of WEL Manitoba and Managing Partner (MP). “This truly is an example of regional collaboration and captures the spirit of our province in contributing to our region’s economic recovery by allowing more women to invest and bringing vital capital to the region.”

WEL Manitoba, one of six female investment funds operating across North America, was instrumental in leading the efforts and coordinating between the MSC and legal partners Pitblado Law and Osler in finalizing the much anticipated result. This unique pool of both accredited and non-accredited investors is WEL’s first hybrid model, leading the way for future WEL funds located in other regions to engage in policy-making with provincial securities commissions. The new MSC ruling requires investors to complete a form of declaration along with documentation acknowledging the risk of angel investing.

“This is a significant win not only for WEL but for Manitoba’s greater angel investment community. The goal was to uphold investor protection provided by securities regulation and promote a culture of economic prosperity for both the founder and investor” explains Elizabeth (Liz) Czyrnyj, a lawyer at Manitoba based law firm Pitblado Law who represented the investment group before the MSC and coordinated the successful ruling with support from WEL’s national law firm Osler.

“Securing this exemption order from the MSC helps to support growth and activity in Manitoba. It aids in removing barriers for women investors in the province and is another example of WEL’s commitment to empowering active participation of women in venture investing,” says Laura Webb, a Partner in Osler’s Emerging and High Growth Companies Group which acts as WEL’s national law firm.

“I am thrilled for the opportunity to be able to join WEL as an investor. Like many other younger women, I am building my career. I feel that achieving accredited status is very difficult for many women to meet at this stage” shares Jenell Osioway Chrorney, an entrepreneur. “To be accepted as a non-accredited investor means that I can invest and learn alongside accomplished, intelligent women. I am very grateful for this exemption.”

WEL’s unique model offers their investors access to hands-on training, education and best practices of investing to ensure members have educational awareness in the industry.

The newly formed early-stage fund will actively invest this fall in tech-enabled companies across the Prairies.

WEL Manitoba is opening applications for entrepreneurs to apply for angel funding later this month. Founders can submit their applications by applying through the Women’s Equity Lab website.

For media inquiries or to join the fund as an investor, please contact jfoster@northforge.ca.

About WEL:

The WEL investing model was created to address women’s chronic and systemic underrepresentation in early-stage investing. By reducing the barriers to entry that have typically kept women out – gender bias, lack of previous investing experience, capital needed to get involved – our Learning On Investment™ (LOI) approach is designed to facilitate entry into this investment class. WEL consists of a powerful community of over 150 women investors from across the country managing a growing portfolio of investments which should reach about 40 company investments by the end of the year. Over 70% of WEL investments are in women-run and women-led businesses. For more information on how to participate in WEL, please refer to our website at www.womensequitylab.com or contact info@womensquitylab.com.

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NEWS RELEASE

Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) Manitoba Early-Stage Venture Fund Now Investing in Women-Led businesses in the Prairies

March 23, 2023

WEL Manitoba brings together a network of accredited women investors from across the province providing hands-on investment education and networking to its members and access to new capital for female founders at the pre-seed and seed stage on the Canadian prairies.

“We’ve been working over the past year to bring together the region’s first female fund that focuses on engaging and encouraging women to learn more about angel investing,” says Joelle Foster, co-founder of WEL Manitoba and Managing Partner, (MP). Joelle is the CEO of North Forge Technology Exchange, a technology incubator accelerator that also runs the largest publicly accessible fabrication lab in North America. “The success of the fund is due to the collaborative efforts taken by our four MPs who were able to bring these women together for our first capital raise in a region that is becoming nationally recognized as a growing tech hub.”

WEL Manitoba is part of WEL National – an organization founded in 2017 with a mission to get more women involved in angel investing. “In addition to Manitoba, WEL investment groups operate in Victoria, Vancouver, Silicon Valley, and an Atlantic Provinces fund made up of investors from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI, and Newfoundland. “WEL Manitoba is an impressive group of accomplished accredited women investors and a new source of female led capital and expertise to support female founders who traditionally have been unable to access vital capital needed to launch successful companies,” Stephanie Andrew, Founding Partner, WEL.

Led by a team of Managing Partners; Joelle Foster, Sandy Foster, Rosalie Harms, and Priti Mehta-Shah, the group believes that female-founded businesses will generate strong returns, and by increasing access to early-stage capital in female-founded companies is a key opportunity to level the playing field.

About WEL:

The WEL investing model was created to address the chronic and systemic underrepresentation of women in early stage investing. By reducing the barriers to entry that have typically kept women out – gender bias, lack of previous investing experience, capital needed to get involved – our Learning On InvestmentTM (LOI) approach is designed to facilitate entry into this investment class. WEL consists of a powerful community of over 150 women investors from across the country managing a growing portfolio of investments which should reach about 40 company investments by the end of the year. Over 70% of WEL investments are in women-run and women-led businesses. WEL not-for-profit was created to support national fund operations with funding from the Government of Canada. For more information on how to participate in WEL please refer to our website at www.womensequitylab.com or contact info@womensquitylab.com.

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