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Expansion of Regional Women in Business Network a success


It takes a certain amount of courage to start a business.

Members of the Marystown-Burin Regional Women In Business Network (RWIBN) meet on a monthly basis from September to June. Sitting (from left) are Donna Thornhill of The Flower Cottage and Cecilia Bungay of Francoservices. In the back (from left) are Patricia Ryan-Kelly of Tilly’s Salon and Solarium, Sherry Dodge of The Thimble Box, Ann Brown of Ann’s Bakery and RWIBN coordinator Judy Peach. Heather Burlingham Photo

There are time constraints, building the business up and, of course, the eternal question of money. Quite often there is also the added stress of family life to deal with if you are female and self-employed.

For the past six years, the Grand Bank Development Corporation (GBDC) has sponsored a program called the Women in Business Initiative, which offers assistance to female run, owned or managed businesses in the Grand Bank-Fortune area.

This past fiscal year the women’s group became regional in scope by taking in the entire Burin Peninsula.

Regional Women in Business Network (RWIBN) coordinator Judy Peach, who has been in the position for the past five years, found her mandate significantly different this year with the change in geographic scope.

She contacted women in the Burin-Marystown area and started having meetings with them on a monthly basis.

One of their needs was for training in an accounting program, so Ms. Peach arranged for instruction in Simply Accounting through Keyin College at the school’s campus in Burin.

The women were able to take advantage of the training at no cost, as the RWIBN covered the tuition. They were also offered one-on-one sessions dealing with their specific businesses at a reasonable rate after they completed the course, once again organized through the organization.

The business women admitted that they would have found it hard to arrange the training on their own and enjoyed the time away from their various businesses (training was done during the evenings) to share a laugh with other self-employed women.

The businesses involved during the past year are as diverse as can be and included a flower and gift shop, a fabric store, a bakery, a translation service, a salon/spa and a resort.

Asked why she started their own businesses, Patricia Ryan-Kelly of Tilly’s Salon and Solarium said that she “liked to be in control”.

Ms. Ryan-Kelly, who indicated that she has always been self-employed, has the most seniority in the group with 20 years under her belt.

Sherry Dodge started the Thimble Box just four months ago and is the only employee so far, but she hopes she will be able to hire someone else on as time goes. Right now, she is putting in long hours building her business.

Ann Brown of Ann’s Bakery, who acknowledged has been self-employed for 12 years, said she has to keep an eye on the ever-rising costs associated with her industry and make changes from time to time.

She recently stopped delivering her baked goods to other areas of the peninsula because of the cost of gas but says many of her customers now come to her shop to pick up the baked goods.

Cecilia Bungay, who owns Francoservices, a translation service, is fluently bilingual in French and English and is often called upon to travel to St. Pierre and Miquelon to assist businesses and groups with the language differences.

She taught in her previous life as an employee but has had her own business for five years.

Golden Sands Resort owner Daisy Matthews has been running her business for nine years.

She indicated Hurricane Igor caused extensive damage to the establishment but noted she has been able to make the necessary repairs and has even improved other aspects of the resort.

The women admitted they would never have met without the organization and are thankful to have had the opportunity to do so. Laughing at shared memories and inside jokes, it’s obvious they now know each other well.

Mrs. Peach indicated Jody Brushett of ACOA, who accompanied her on many excursions to introduce the program, was an enormous help to her in meeting and encouraging the women in the area.

ACOA, the provincial Department of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development and the Grand Bank Development Corporation provides the funding for the RWIBN program. 

Under the auspices of the GBDC, Ms. Peach works on a year-to-year contract, which expired at the end of July but has been renewed for another year – definitely good news for women in the area.

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