Episode 188

How To: Fund Your Social Enterprise with Jacqueline Sofia, Noora Sharrab and Sagal Dualeh

Kayla Isabelle

Jacqueline Sofia, Noora Shaarab, Sagal Dualeh

Episode Overview

Impact isn’t always a number or a dollar amount. Often it is a story.

Jacqueline Sofia and Noora Sharrab are the founders of SITTI Social Enterprise, a venture that exists to improve the lives of refugees and displaced communities. Sagal Dualeh is the Senior Director of the Investment Readiness Program at Canada’s Women Foundation, supporting women and gender-diverse entrepreneurs to fund their impact-first businesses. Together, we discuss how to navigate operating as a social enterprise and how to acquire funding for important missions like this.


Jacqueline Sofia and Noora Sharrab are the founders of SITTI Social Enterprise, a venture that exists to improve the lives of refugees and displaced communities. SITTI received funding from the Investment Readiness Program in 2020.

Sagal Dualeh is the Senior Director of the Investment Readiness Program at Canada Women’s Foundation where she supports women and gender-diverse founders to access government funding so they can scale their social ventures.


Episode 188

Episode Transcript

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  01:15
Welcome to the Startup Women podcast a show where we connect you with Canada’s powerful cohort of women-identifying founders to real stories and case studies of women building businesses supported by true tactical advice from thought leaders and industry experts. I’m your host, Kayla Isabelle, CEO of Startup Canada. Each month, I’ll be sharing the mic with one founder and one expert. Together we will dive into real stories and scenarios and uncover actionable advice for women entrepreneurs across Canada. From funding and hiring to sales and scaling strategies. On this show, we cover the most important topics so you can deconstruct the challenges of starting and running a business with the knowledge that goes beyond the surface level. Let’s get started. Jacqueline, Sophia, and Nora Sherab are the cofounders of city social enterprise, a venture that exists to improve the lives of refugees and displaced communities. The impact is behind each product that they sell, as they work to complete their mission to educate, employ, and empower communities to lift themselves out of poverty.

Jacqueline Sofia (SITTI)  02:26
Yeah, I think the simplicity comes down to the human connection, which is a lot of times hand in hand with storytelling. For us, we can publish all the impact numbers we want but at the end of the day, people are gonna connect most with another face another person, you know a mother just like them who might be the only one earning income for her family and her husband’s unable to work and she’s got five six kids at home and mother in law she’s caring for those are the types of things that people connect to and, you know, that impacts them.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  03:10
Important missions like this need funding so they can accomplish sustainability and focus on impact. That’s where our topic expert Seagal. dual comes in. Seagal is the Senior Director of the investment readiness program at Canada Women’s Foundation, where she supports women and gender-diverse founders to access government funding so that they can scale their social ventures.

Sagal Dualeh (IRP)  03:33
The IRP is essentially a national program. It’s funded by the government of Canada. And it supports kind of a whole range of organizations that are the ones that are solving Canada’s kind of pressing challenges everything from affordable housing to food insecurity to climate resiliency

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  03:51
In this conversation, Segal uncovers the ins and outs of applying for AI RP funding, and why grants like this are so important for social entrepreneurs and their ventures. Welcome to the show. Can you tell us the story of the city? How did it all start? What do your team and mission look like today? Bring us back to the very beginning.

Noora Shaarab (SITTI)  04:16
It started with a bar of soap. I recall Sofia coming to my home with a box of soap and saying can you help us sell the soap at the time was working closely with the refugee community in Jordan and was mainly focused on my nonprofit and then also working full time with the UN. And we were mostly focused on education so soap making and selling soap was not on my agenda at all. And I remember looking at the soap and thinking this isn’t just about soap This is more than just you know women making soap. This is about women trying to create economic opportunity Cities for themselves and building themselves out of or pulling themselves out of poverty to create opportunities for their families. But then there was, I guess, a conversation that there was another person in the camp whose name was Jackie, who was also trying to help women. You know, get the soap out to the market and I was like, Who is this Jackie girl, we need to connect with her. And, you know, within that couple of weeks, we connected and we realized that we were both looking to achieve similar goals, which was to get these women to become self-reliant and to become economically empowered through selling a soap essentially. And that’s, that’s kind of what that’s how we kind of got together, we saw that this, this was an opportunity for women to make something out of their lives by using skills that they were taught, and then bringing this product to market to tell the stories of these women.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  06:02
Amazing. Jacqueline, what’s your sort of inception perspective in that story?

Jacqueline Sofia (SITTI)  06:08
I mean, yeah, it’s basically what Nora mentioned, remember, being pulled into a room by a woman in the Women’s Center, which it’s, it’s essentially the center in the camp, where women seek out support for legal services. Sometimes if they’re experiencing gender-based violence in the community, they’ll go seek support through this office there. But the Women’s Center also serves as a facilitator for various activities throughout the camp. And at the time, I had finished my Fulbright Fellowship a couple of years ago and had decided to stay in Jordan. So I never booked a ticket. You know, I essentially had a one-way ticket to Jordan, and when I had my Fulbright and didn’t go back. I mean, I went back for holidays, but here and there, but didn’t move back and ended up befriending a group of women in the community in Jerash. Camp after had been working there throughout my Fulbright. And it is universal it’s a universal experience. For a lot of the women in the camp to want to be self-reliant, want to earn a living for their families, many of them have husbands or brothers who are experiencing joblessness due to a variety of systemic issues, whether it’s the fact that they are x causing refugees who cannot access the majority of jobs in Jordan, because of their refugee and stateless status. Or because of chronic illness, a lot of them are unable to work full-time. And most of the jobs available are Day Laborer jobs, very physically grueling jobs for men. So most of these women are trying to kind of pull themselves up by their bootstraps and figure out a way. And so the women I had been working with at the time, I had been teaching yoga as a yoga instructor to these women at the beginning, and it just kind of evolved into this, well, let’s try something like this, let’s do this activity. And then eventually, it became, we need to start earning a living, we can’t just keep doing these, you know, activities without some sort of return on, you know, for our families. And we tried a lot of different things. I remember one point, we tried preserved olives, which is a delicious food that’s traditional to like the community they are but we didn’t have a kitchen to work in. And we tried threes which are like an embroidery technique that didn’t, it was too time-consuming for us. We just didn’t have the resources for it. But eventually, when I was in this meeting, in the Women’s Center, a woman came in and pulled me aside and pulls me up to this room and says, I need you to see something she opens this door and there are just piles of olive oil soap sitting in this room. And she said you know the Italian Embassy came they taught us this workshop on how to make olive oil soap. And now we know how to make cold processed olive oil soap, which is great because, you know it’s another skill, but we don’t know how to sell it. And we don’t know where to sell it and we don’t have the resources to sell it. So this is an I mean this is not a unique situation and a lot of marginalized communities. This tends to happen You know, an organization has good intentions coming in, teaches people a skill, lets them learn something new, but then doesn’t give them the follow-through resources to do anything with it and to make a living off of it. So, I reached out to a mutual friend of Nora’s mine. And that’s how we got connected, because she had emailed me back and said, someone is doing the same thing that you’re trying to figure out, you guys need to meet. So like Sofia, I met Nora at her apartment. And we sat down with our laptops and started putting together a website and a crowdfunding campaign because we knew we didn’t have the money to do it ourselves. And that’s where it started.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  10:52
And bring us to now where is the organization? What does it look like today?

Noora Shaarab (SITTI)  10:57
I mean, it’s been almost, I think we’re entering our seventh year, and we’ve had a lot of learnings in the process. Um, we still work with incredible women thought day in and day out, teach us, you know, that they’re willing to push hard to break stereotypes of being refugees, and do not, you know, just have this representation that because you’re a refugee, you just want to rely on aid and charity, these are women that come to us and say, We want more work like we want to provide for our families, we want to pull ourselves out of poverty, these are communities that are tired of living in limbo, and not having economic opportunities that are afforded to them, you know, like the rest of the country, just because they happen to live in a marginalized refugee camp. And, you know, not having a status that the way they do so I guess the journey from when we started to now is the same because we continue to do what we do every day. After all, we know that these women are relying on, you know, the products that we sell to the market, yes, things have changed. It’s not just about selling soap, there’s so much more to the game of starting a business. I mean, I wish it was just about selling soap because that’s just the easy part. It’s really about, you know, getting to market telling your story over and over and over again, and trying to elevate an experience and bring something forward that people are going to love, cherish and see, you know, the meaning behind, whether it’s a single bar of soap or you know, companies that do corporate gifting with us, that are committed to saying you know, what we see what your company is doing, and the mission that you guys are trying to achieve. And by, you know, making a purchase from us or buying from us. They’re committing to our very mission of creating economic opportunities for this community that we are we’re looking to support. And we realized that this is just one avenue, if we’re looking to create a shift in the mindset of how we look at the growing refugee issues globally, we need to start looking at alternative solutions. And for us, that’s where the social enterprise comes in. That’s where our model comes in, to step in with these artisanal communities and say, Okay, how can we bridge the gap between the conscious global market and what we can offer, but also coming and connecting with these communities that don’t, that simply don’t have market access? Right? A lot of the time it’s because they just don’t have the network, the mentorship, the guidance to kind of push forward. So I think that’s important is where do we come in, in that grand scheme of, you know, not grants picture of things when we’re working with these communities.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  13:52
Jacqueline, anything else to add, on where things have evolved in some of the lessons that you’ve learned throughout this seven-year journey?

Jacqueline Sofia (SITTI)  13:59
Yeah. I think that there’s, there’s the business side, right, which is connecting with our consumers, making sure that people understand the story that comes along with this incredible product, and not just why the product is amazing, but why the entire package is amazing and worth the purchase. But it’s also about our responsibility and our accountability to the communities we work with. Because at the end of the day, their story is what’s selling this soap you know, and so they’re it’s great that people are connecting with this story and connecting with this product in this community on the consumer side. But then there’s also the other side of that equation, which is staying accountable. to the communities that we’re working with day in and day out to create these products. And it’s not just about sourcing the products, but it’s about really understanding what are the challenges and the unique challenges of those individual communities we’re working with. And in refugee communities, even within the same camp, you have various challenges, depending on the individual, depending on whether you’re talking about women or persons with disabilities, or, you know, even within those sub-communities, you’re gonna have one person whose self-reliance in their household is much higher than another person’s, and it’s not as simple as just running a business. It’s you, you’re embedded in the lives of the people you’re working with, whether you like it or not, and a lot of times, that’s a very emotional place to be. And I don’t think that you know, it’s, a lot of people say, Oh, well, business is business, well, maybe that’s the case for some people, but that’s not the case for us. And, I think a lot of social enterprises can and should identify with this.

Noora Shaarab (SITTI)  16:20
As a social enterprise, we’re often battling with this, this thought this process of like, you know, we have to put our business hat on and not our like, you know, we have to remind ourselves, we’re not a nonprofit, we only have, we have certain goals that we’re trying to achieve as a company. But then, because we’re so committed to the community, we’re also like, what we can’t neglect these other overarching issues that are also impacting the very people that we are trying to support. So it’s difficult that when you are running as a company, you want to keep that, you know, corporate head-on and make those corporate decisions. But oftentimes, it’s not to the benefit of the community. And we have to kind of look at innovative or alternative ways to come in and support the beneficiaries or say, the communities that we’re normally trying to, you know, work with. And that’s why it’s interesting because we’re always looking at ways to like bridge gaps or find other ways of cooperation or, you know, even coordinating our partnerships on the ground because it’s not as easy as you know, vendor or supplier, buy your product, sell it, you’re done. There’s so much more that’s in play when you are working with these types of communities and understanding that is key in the work that we do,

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  17:38
Unbelievable, and I’m excited to dive deeper into how other organizations can learn from this type of structure and seek inspiration from all the insights that you’ve gleaned over the last seven years. So cigar, let’s talk about your journey. How did you become connected with the social impact work of entrepreneurs? How did you get involved in the role you know, I was director of the investment readiness program at Canada Women’s Foundation, bring us through a bit of your career journey.

Sagal Dualeh (IRP)  18:06
Thanks, Kayla. Happy to and thanks for having me today. Well, I think, fortunately, my journey has been a winding path. I’d say it’s fortunate because I’ve been lucky to work with so many different organizations over the last decade. And although my journey has been meandering, and it’s not a straight line from point A to B, what’s always really kind of grounded me, I think, is my academic background and international economics and finance. And strangely, mathematics, I’ve always kind of loved kind of the rigorous way math is applied to everyday kind of problems and models. And so, at the same time, I think when I was doing kind of my academic studies, I was always frustrated by all you know, inequities and inequalities that show up in our economic models and capitalism. And so I wanted to try to understand these markets and want to want to understand business, trade, finance, and, and economics, but also kind of alternative systems, and ways of kind of structuring these global systems. And so I think when we talk about economics and economies, we can’t talk about the people who are driving, you know, the economy, which are businesses, which are people who are inspiring social impact entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized enterprises, businesses, all these socially minded organizations, they’re at the forefront of building, you know, good economy. And so I think, I guess this curiosity and frame of mind led me to become a public servant initially. So I worked for many years in the federal government and in various roles. I’ve worked in markets and trade developments, with international partners across kind of southern America on agricultural business and cooperation and kind of facilitating trade disputes between countries. And from there, I kind of settled into the domestic side and was interested in the Canadian food business and kind of the supply chain that goes into developing a kind of food business, everything from processors and farmers and producers to manufacturers and food entrepreneurs. And so I had a great experience, I think working in the public sector, but I wanted to be a lot more intentional with my choices and kind of career choices. So I took a break, explored working with micro businesses in East Africa, where my family is from, and specifically working with women and kind of the gendered impacts of sustainable development. And so as a first-generation immigrant myself and seeing kind of some of the barriers to financing and while my parents and friends kind of faced as newcomers to Canada as well, I was a little bit disillusioned by the lack of funding, especially for women. And so I shifted my focus to financing and went back to kind of understanding the financial frameworks. And so I started managing different funding opportunities here in Canada, mostly, you know, with my agricultural background, of course, they focused on food-based entrepreneurs, which kind of led me to work with social impact entrepreneurs in my current role here at the Canadian Women’s Foundation. So for the past three years or so, we’ve been working with amazing organizations like Nora and Jacqueline from the city to kind of boost their participation in the social finance market to support them in any way possible to get them ready on their journeys, for investment for financing as they kind of like start some, you know, grow and sustain their social enterprises. So it has been meandering, but really kind of interesting, so far. Amazing.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  21:19
I love hearing these sorts of stories that, you know, in entrepreneurship, often those pathways are meandering in, you know, not entrepreneurship, it is meandering, so really incredible to see the breadth of experience that you’ve had in the world, and bringing that into the investment readiness programs. Fabulous. Throughout today’s conversation, I think language is really important. And I think in a lot of the work that startup Canada does, with the investment Readiness Program, or talking about the social impact or social entrepreneurship, there’s a lot of confusion around what that even is, what is a social entrepreneur, what is a social enterprise? What is a social purpose organization are some of these nuances and what we even call some of, you know, these entrepreneurs in these networks. I would love to get your sense. Nora and Jacqueline first perhaps, what is social impact to you? Why was social entrepreneurship or creating a social enterprise really important to you at the inception of building this business? And then Seagal, I would love to get your perspective on this as well.

Noora Shaarab (SITTI)  22:18
My intake with social entrepreneurship is that social enterprises, in general, are that you’re not running as a normal company would and then doing good at the end of the year because it feels good, right? You’re not just you know, doing business as usual, I’m getting the most bang for your buck, or you know, maximizing your profit. Because, you know, that’s the way you do business. For social entrepreneurs, the very core of them running a business usually entails embedding a social cause or social impact to some degree in how they do business, to begin with. So for us for the city, at the core of what we do is not just to sell soap, and then donate proceeds to a refugee community at the core of what we do is to create and generate employment opportunities for vulnerable communities, to then allow to help promote self-reliance in these communities as a result of that. It’s not just to donate profits to a marginalized community and say, our work is done, it’s really about being much more involved in the process. And so I think the difference between social entrepreneurs or social enterprises is the mission that they hold and what they’re trying to achieve in that process.

Jacqueline Sofia (SITTI)  23:37
It’s a difference in philosophy by which we live, as a company as a corporation as an entity. And there is a constant I think I touched on this a lot in the earlier question, which is that there is a distinction between your everyday Company Small Business and Social Enterprise that you are responsible or you’re holding yourself responsible to a community for a greater cause other than yourself and it’s you know, people often use the phrase triple bottom line right? People planet profit. I think that that, in a way is a bit antiquated. Now to be honest, at the end of the day, all companies really should be paying attention to people’s planet and profit if they’re not sustainable and that’s to their demise. Honestly. I think that social enterprise really should be the norm. But that’s just me that’s just I don’t know if I’m, I don’t mean to speak for Nora, but I think we can agree that there is There’s something to be said for it beyond just doing good for others. It’s going to be to the benefit of everyone. If enterprises become social,

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  25:11
yeah, it’s good business in more ways than just doing good, or, you know, building businesses that can be potentially profitable. I think that is a huge myth that you can’t have a for-profit social enterprise, that is a thing that is welcomed. Different business structures are not just charities that are not just nonprofits, structures that can bring to life social enterprise, and this kind of philosophy that you’re mentioning Jackie, I love that positioning. Seagal anything else? To help our listeners conceptualize? What is a social enterprise versus not a social enterprise? Is there a way to even measure or quantify if you’re doing enough good, how do you approach this conversation? If you’ve never even heard this term before?

Sagal Dualeh (IRP)  25:53
Those are great questions. And I have to say, I completely agree with neuron and Jacqueline as well, I think we have been I think sometimes when I have these conversations with organizations, we talk a little bit about language because language is also a way to exclude, right? It’s a measure and a way to exclude organizations. And so when I have these conversations with folks, when we talk about the word social enterprise, we think, Okay, well, there are charities and nonprofits that for years and years and decades and decades, centuries that have been operating in a way that a social enterprise does, but not necessarily using the word social enterprise, and Nonprofits and Charities have been doing that for many, many decades, many years. And it goes the same with indigenous communities, First Nations, matey, and Inuit women who are operating businesses or ventures or, or charities that operate social enterprises. They might not use the language, but as we have a conversation, they’re understanding that they are. And sometimes it’s a little bit traumatic to realize, Hey, I’ve been not able to access funding because I’m not using the appropriate language or the right language. And so I think it’s important to have those types of discussions with organizations and that’s part of what the investment readiness program is, there’s a type there also an awareness that’s embedded into the program. So investment awareness is just as important I think, as a kind of investment readiness. But I completely agree with neuron Jacqueline in terms of how they kind of define social enterprise work.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  27:20
So bridging right there Seagal, what is the investment readiness program? We get asked this very often through startup Canada, and I think there’s there’s an interpretation of what this is there. There’s a continuum of support for what these offerings are. And then there’s an entire network of support organizations that are working within the IRP. So can you explain to our listeners, what the investment readiness program is, we’re going to use short-form IRP. And then what does the Canadian Women’s Foundation do at large? And then as it particularly pertains to the IRP,

Sagal Dualeh (IRP)  27:50
The investment readiness program? I think it’s a question we get, I get quite a bit and it does sound vague, to be quite honest, it is vague, right? People ask, well, what is the investment? What’s the investment? And what are we ready for? And we kind of put it simply, I mean, I say right off the bat, it’s a misnomer because it isn’t an investment. It’s not something repayable that you pay back, it’s not financing. It’s not a loan. But essentially, it’s a funding opportunity, like a Grants opportunity for organizations that are looking for ways to get themselves ready to access investment to get themselves ready to access a loan, or equity or social financing in the future. And when I say social finance, I think it’s just essentially it’s investment or lending. It’s a form of lending that delivers either kind of a social, cultural, or environmental impact, as well as a financial return, right? That’s the piece that’s different for social finance, that financial return for investors. And so the IRP is essentially a national program. It’s funded by the government of Canada. And it supports kind of a whole range of organizations that are the ones that are solving Canada’s kind of pressing challenges everything from affordable housing to food insecurity, to climate, resiliency. And so the broader goal of the investment readiness program is to build the capacity of organizations and get them to participate in this growing kind of market because we know down the pipeline that the Government of Canada proposed nearly a billion dollar fund a $755 million fund called the Social Finance Fund, which is essentially there over the next decade that a fund that organizations can access and so this program is kind of a primer kind of getting organizations ready to access either the fund social finance fund or other investment opportunities. And so the Canadian Women’s Foundation, we are one of very one of four organizations across Canada. There are community foundations in Canada, the foundation for black communities Shanti Dilla economy socio based in Quebec and the National Association of friendship centers. And I think it’s important to recognize that there are other delivery and funding partners across Canada encouraging organizations to access this type of funding. And for us, I think the program, what I’m focused on is encouraging the readiness and growth of women and gender-diverse organizations so they can participate in this marketplace, especially those that don’t consider themselves part of this ecosystem. Right. So we’re prioritizing funding to those organizations into those women who face kind of the multiple barriers and where the community meet

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  30:24
Beautifully said. And it’s no simple feat to go through that roster, offerings, and that continuum of support that the investment Readiness Program and the social finance funder, and Tinder are sorts of intending to build. So beautifully done there. Nora, and Jacqueline, walk us through your funding experience was funding for your social impact venture, a challenge was it you know, really hard to find existing social finance opportunities? What was your funding journey? And how did you end up hearing about the IRP?

Noora Shaarab (SITTI)  30:55
Because we started as a social enterprise. And because we started in an already existing vulnerable community, we knew that we have to always find alternative modes of bringing in revenue. So we couldn’t exclusively rely on just the sales of the products that we were selling, we knew that we had other fees that were going to come into play. And so we were always, you know, seeking out, you know, whether it was grant opportunities, or maybe in the beginning, when we first launched, we ran a couple of crowdfunding campaigns to help us when we were just a little tight on cash to run the company. And oftentimes, we were stuck in this in this, I guess, as part of our journey. And when you’re running a small business, or when you’re getting started, there’s a big vast difference from like, you got to the point of scale, and where you’re starting to produce and bringing in proper, you know, like profit, and then the point where you’re just still, you know, side hustling and like pushing, you know, you’re, you’re doing kind of like organic, you know, pushes here and there. And so for us, we were stuck in this weird position in the company where we had the potential of like, you know, we do have opportunities to grow, but we’re just stuck because it’s just, it’s costing us way too much money, or, you know, going from this point to this point, just needed that big leap or that big jump. And because as a social enterprise, our revenue growth wasn’t as strong as let’s say, a tech and like a tech company, or maybe an alternative company that was sourcing the products at like, very, very high margins. We had to kind of look at alternative ways, we knew that if we opened the pathway to start, you know, bringing in ANGEL or VC investment right away, we would lose majority equity of the company because we weren’t, you know, our revenue wasn’t high enough. And so when I first learned about IRP, I remember, I had already missed the deadline. And I was like, Oh, no. Okay, so this is I like flagged it, I put it on the radar, I put it on my calendar, I was like, Okay, I know that they’re going to be opening up funding soon. And, you know, what was the requirement to get there, I knew that you know, at the time, we were launching our first ever subscription box that worked on not just pushing out our products forward, but also partnering with local women-owned brands and you know, ethical brands that aligned with our mission, so that we can also push that forward but also create job opportunities in the state at the same time, through the funding that we bought through IRP. So it was one of the larger grants we’ve ever gotten as a company. You know, we’ve always got access to smaller ones, but this was on the larger side. And it was great for us to kind of really push more aggressively things that we were, I would say worried to do because it just would cost too much money for us. And because we knew that the funding was available through IRP whether it was hiring, you know, marginalized women to join our team and having more consistent employment for them as a result of the funding or investing a little money in marketing that could push our company a little bit more, you know, to the top, those were little things that we were able to do as a result of the funding because we knew that, you know, if we were just relying on sales coming in, we would have to prioritize, okay, what are we spending our money on? And how are we going to utilize those funds having access to alternative revenue streams is important for us and, and allows us to just really be able to think bigger than what we’re currently doing right now.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  34:42
That’s a great point and Seagal for those that are interested in learning more about the IRP or what that one deadline is so that, like Nora, they’re putting notifications in their calendars, etc. To be prepared, what that application process looks like? How is that different than maybe some other traditional lending processes that they may have experienced before, what are some of the key questions or considerations that they can be thinking about in preparation for this type of application? And walk us through any piece of advice that you have for founders as they’re potentially conceptualizing that process for themselves.

Sagal Dualeh (IRP)  35:17
Yeah, absolutely. I think I want to say also how amazing neuron Jacqueline was when they received their first IRP funds,, I think they received it from not mistaken at the height of the pandemic, the first kind of lockdowns. And they did. I mean, I don’t know how they did it but did an amazing job pivoting amid the pandemic when the first subscription box was launched. So kudos to you both and lots of uncertainty, and your kind of that isn’t a testament, to your resilience too. So the applications are great timing because we’re launching the applications near the end of November of this year, it’s our second launch of applications. The exact date of the launch hasn’t been shared yet, it won’t be posted on our website until kind of mid-end of November. But I encourage folks to sign up for our community initiatives newsletter, it’s a great source of information to find all funding opportunities at the Canadian Women’s Foundation. So that’s kind of the first piece of information that is important to check out the website and that newsletter, in terms of kind of what founders can do to prepare in advance of applying, I would say is checking out the website, we have a whole host of resources to support founders, there are assessment criteria, there’s a frequently asked questions, there’s a glossary, there’s kind of step by step instruction guidelines, we provide the entire application upfront, so you don’t have to access the online portal to access the questions. The timing is really good because we also just launched the start, we just enhanced the previous cohort of funding recipients, so really encouraged founders to check out who has received funding before, look at the organizations on our website, and some of those kinds of innovative enterprises that receive funding and it gives you a good idea of who we would receive funding in the second cycle. I think one of the best ways to prepare as well for the application is to attend some of our info sessions, we have a drop in style q&a sessions, where folks can attend a session, there’s no presentation, no webinar, but it’s more like a drop-in class like back in college university, see your teaching assistants and just ask us any questions about your proposal about the program itself. And so we hold those periodically throughout the launch of the application. But I think if there’s one takeaway, the number one thing I ask any applicant or prospective organization is to just get in touch with us. We’d love to have one on one calls, coaching calls to just try to decipher the funding and have extremely frank conversations, you know, is there, for example, funding a waste of time, right is it doesn’t align with your organization, we want to make sure that our goals are aligned with the organization’s goals, and especially smaller organizations that maybe are under-resourced may not have the time and the capacity to fill in an application. So sometimes the outcomes of these calls are great because they’re able to recognize that, you know, the funding is just not appropriate at this particular time. Or they want to take a little bit more time as Nora did in the first cycle to kind of strengthen their proposal or their project for the next funding cycle. And so I think these candid one-on-one phone calls and conversations are the best points. It’s really about honesty, you know, clarity, and giving honest feedback about what to do in the application. We really, don’t want organizations to kind of jump through hoops. And I think some organizations feel that they do have to kind of jump through hoops to access funding because there are so many different grants and funding applications available across Canada. You know, we see, so folks sometimes reword their application to make it fit into our narrative as a funder, right to access the funding. And so we’re aware of that. And so what we do is we try to have conversations one on one, have those phone calls, and do a lot of proactive outreach to organizations that may not be in our network at all, as well.

Noora Shaarab (SITTI)  39:22
Yeah, I appreciate it goes I remember when we had applied the first time on actually got a call from the committee Women’s Foundation to get clarity on something that I had written in the application. And I appreciated that because the person that called me was like, Okay, we just want to make sure that this is what you meant, because this is what we understand of your, and then it was nice to see that they weren’t just trying to like, you know, you know, dodge points off if we, you know, we didn’t say it the right way. And you know, because we had written the application in a particular way and we had, like, I recall that time, it was like an insightful conversation. And it allowed me to ask questions. But also, you know, the team member from Canadian Women’s Foundation was like, okay, so this is what you’re trying, and just getting that clarity and knowing that we had the opportunity to like, just give our perspective of what we were trying to apply for. And it wasn’t just like, your inner out type of thing. Like it just I felt more like, you know, how can we help you achieve your goal? And how can we kind of get there, I appreciated that in the process, and made me feel a little bit more comfortable. And, you know, like Seagal was saying, sometimes we feel like we have to fit within, you know, you know, a certain sphere to like be able to access funding, and working with Communities Foundation has been I would say, more seamless than other organizations that have allocated funding, and I’m grateful for it. Yeah.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  40:57
Yeah, like, that’s one of the benefits of this program. Overall, it is an investment in more ways than one like it does feel more personal, there’s a lot of thought and effort being put into the interactions. And for founders who have never been through an application process, and other types of organizations that might be much more stringent or sort of bottomless, sometimes you can be sent through these applications and never hear anything you may not hear if you’re successful, you may not hear if you’re not, and that can be corrosive to the trust or even having yourself and the investable quality of your business overall, that’s a very challenging process. So I think the IRP is a great partner to have your back. And that recognizes you as both a human being and a founder simultaneously, which is important.

Sagal Dualeh (IRP)  41:41
I don’t know if I answered the other question, Kayla, about kind of walking through what to expect and how long the process takes. Go for it, I have, I think there’s quite a bit of information to share, but I’ll try to minimize it as much as possible. I love the deep out. Okay, good, good. I’ll take a moment to at least describe what we have planned for the next funding cycle, it’s a little bit different from previous funding cycles, in that we have three kinds of pots of funding available, we’re calling them kind three streams. So we have one called the Impact stream, one will be called the catalyst stream, and one the systems change or collaborative stream. And so for the impacted stream, it’s going to be funding funds in the range of 45 to 75,000. And this is geared toward organizations that are launching and growing operations and deepening their impact folks like city social enterprise. And Nora, Jackie, the catalyst stream is a little bit like seed funding, if you think of the venture capital space, smaller amounts between 5000 to 15,000. And this is an opportunity for organizations to explore social enterprise development or revenue generation opportunities. And so say you have an idea you, you’d like to pilot it, you kind of have an identified need or market need. And you want to articulate that need a little bit better, or perhaps, you know, pilot, a service or a product or prototype, a product or service. So that type of funding is for kind of organizations in that in that stage or sphere. And then the last extreme that’s available is between 35,060 and 5000 is called the system’s change or collaborative stream. And this stream is focused on adjusting kind of that ecosystem gap. How are organizations addressing the systemic issues in the intersecting areas of kind of gender and social finance those overlapping areas? And so the intent of this, when I kind of refer to systems change, I think we were talking about root causes, rather than kind of the symptoms, right? How do we alter and transform structures or mindsets and power dynamics that are involved in this in this community in the sector? And so this could be focused on case studies, research sector research, and developing any kind of enhancing the network development between organizations. And so there’s quite a range of funding that’s available that will be available when we launch in November. I didn’t point out before that the online process, the whole application process is online. So it, I think its benefits. And it’s also a deterrent when it’s online because we’re able to kind of streamline the process. It’s a one-step application process. So you choose the stream of funding and you submit your application. But we’re aware also that some rural remote and isolated northern communities might not have access to good internet connectivity. And so we do offer alternative ways to submit a proposal submission for those types of organizations. And we’re always trying to kind of figure out the best way to have more accessible ways to funding so we hope that in the next funding cycle that will alleviate some of that pressure in terms of the application itself. We can ask the same basic organizational questions. So how much are you You know, the money question, right, how much are you requesting? Which communities or populations are you Working with or surveying? Where in Canada Do you work? And then we ask a series of questions based on the venture proposal itself. We try to minimize that to 10 questions. So a summary of the project itself, kind of sharing your revenue, your business model with us. And then any partnerships that you have involved in the project. And from in terms of timeline, that’s about a six-month process. So it ranges from actually four months to six months. So from the time we launched the application, and to the time you receive the money in your hand or your organization’s bank account, that’s about a four to six-month process. And so it’ll probably be early spring next year.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  45:43
You think thank you, Seagal. And I think, you know, through these processes, the transparency piece is so important. Often, you know, you send through these applications and you’re not entirely sure what the next steps are going to be. It’s really helpful to see what that looks like it that transparency from the organization is fantastic. The startup women Advocacy Network swan is a curated group of 13 women-identifying early-stage entrepreneurs who advocate and champion the needs of women entrepreneurs from coast to coast to coast mini cycle specializes in the circular economy for kids’ fashion, it offers new and pre-loved clothes for zero to 14-year-olds and guarantees to buy back everything. Once the kids outgrow their clothes. Then they wash repair and or upcycle everything to resell to other parents and make the clothes live on. As a mom with a master’s degree in environmental studies. Many cycles founder and president Jad Roba tie combine her enthusiasm for environmental issues, her knowledge of business management, and her passion for making sustainable fashion accessible to all. We are beyond excited to have Jad as our Quebec Swan representative, visit mini dash cycle.com That’s the mini hyphen. cycle.com Memory Keeper is a digital storytelling platform and application that allows you to save store, design, protect and tell your story. At Memory Keeper they value your privacy and security. They ensure you control the narrative of your story. You decide who contributes, and whom you want it shared with, and when you want it shared, you’re the Memory Maker. They are your Memory Keeper, after having lost someone special to her. Jessica McNaughton founded Memory Keeper to ensure we all have a way to collect, craft, and protect our memories for years to come. We are so thrilled to have Jessica as our Saskatchewan Swan representative visit memory keeper.com That’s memory Cape p r.com. dingy Jess Adventures is an outdoor adventure company that offers unique river trips for communities, organizations, youth, and anyone who wants to have an experience of a lifetime and gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the land. residing on the land and home of the Kwanlin Dun and Tong Quach in the territory of Whitehorse, Yukon, Bobby rose QE launched dingy just Adventures in 2021. With the respect, love, and permission of her elders, one of the first switching women to launch an outdoor adventure company she’s very proud and dedicated to making every trip unique and customized. For dingy just adventurous guests. We are honored to have Bobby rose as our Yukon Swan representative, visit dinjizhuh.com, visit w w w dot startup can.ca. And head over to the Explorer tab. Under startup women, you’ll find more information about the Advocacy Network and the incredible work of these amazing founders. Now that we’ve learned all the fabulous things about the IRP the application process, understanding some of the scopes of support that you’re able to access through that initiative, and being able to communicate your story and your impact. This is a huge part of this process, both in seeking traditional investment, and just marketing your organization. Overall, there are so many businesses that consumers are supporting. How do you sort of cut through that noise when you are making a significant impact? So, Jacqueline, I’d love to pass this over to you first with Citi, you know this very clear mission to educate, employ and empower refugees and displaced communities. It’s such a powerful mission, and it’s so important, but what have been some of those challenges that you’ve had to communicate what you do and the impact you make, in simple terms, but navigating a very complex mission?

Jacqueline Sofia (SITTI)  49:41
Yeah, I think the simplicity comes down to the human connection, which is a lot of times hand in hand with storytelling. For us, we can publish all the impact numbers we want but at the end of the day People are going to connect most with another face another person, you know, a mother just like them who might be the only one earning income for her family and her husband’s unable to work. And she’s got five, six kids at home and mother-in-law she’s caring for, those are the types of things that people connect to, and, you know, that impacts them. So I think that the simplest way to, communicate impact to people is, is just drawing those connections between human stories. When it comes to the more complicated or complex, you know, side of things when, when you’re looking at okay, well, how do I quantify this? Or how do I put it into a document or report on this? That was a real challenge for us. Actually, up until a couple of years ago, we were struggling with this. I, you know, I, Nora, and I had a meeting, I remember this was kind of at the height of the pandemic when things had just started. And we were, along with so much going on for the business. We came to this, we had this come to Jesus moment, or whatever you want to call it this moment, we were like, Okay, we need to figure out how to communicate to people. What is our impact? What are we doing, at the end of the day, aside from selling these products and working with this community? What is the impact here? And so and how do we tell that we’re making an impact over time, right? And so we, at the same time, a former member of our advisory board had sent me some information on an event that was going on, it was, a partnership of international organizations focused on refugee communities that had come together to form the refugee Self Reliance initiative. And they were launching this tool called the Self Reliance index. And it was kismet, it was just one of them. Were like, Oh, this is a tool we can use, you know, and it aligned perfectly with our mission. And, after we had learned more about the refugee Self Reliance initiative and their mission, to create self-reliance for refugee communities and displaced communities globally, and what self-reliance was defined as which came down to meeting your basic needs, without the strong interjection of major humanitarian aid support, right, so being able to pay your bills, at the end of the day, being able to pay your rent to feed your kids to do all of that on a, you know, a dignified income, when we got to know more about this and how the tool was measuring Self Reliance based on these domains that touched on all aspects of life when it included it education income, it included social capital, which is essentially your connections to your community, all these things were like, This is City, you know, this is what we are always talking about as our organization and what’s important to us. So we started adopting the tool, the tool measures 12 domains, some of which I just mentioned, it also measures things like debt, and a household’s ability to meet all these basic needs, and then kind of sets them up on a sliding scale of one to five one being the least self-reliant and five, equating to self-reliance, basic self-reliance of the household. It does it on a household basis, not on an individual basis, which also was important to us. And so that tool is something that we use to measure and document the self-reliance of the households we work with regularly. So first and foremost, our employees and our team members in their households, right? So our team members meet their basic needs, that is the most important thing to us. And at that point, our team members can meet their basic needs within their households and their homes. Okay, what about our strategic partners meaning our community-based partners that we source our materials from we source our products from the people associated with their programs, those fiduciaries are they meeting their basic needs? Are they self-reliant? And so it’s kind of a, I guess you could say it’s like this nested approach. So first at the core, and then moving outwards, we’re really at the beginning stages of this. Right? So we just started using the Self Reliance tool after 2020. It’s not a simple process because you’re not just asking people, oh, how much money do you make? And are you able to pay your rent every month? You know, there are lots of questions there that get at the holistic picture. But we do believe that, that that is what we consider impact.

Noora Shaarab (SITTI)  55:44
When we first started this journey with measuring impact, we wanted to be asked ourselves, are we making a difference? What does it why does it matter that we’re doing the work that we do sometimes, as a small company, you know, you look at those companies that are sharing impact reports of, you know, impacting 10s of 1000s of people and you’re like, Well, wait, we’re such a small company, we’re only employing X amount, or we’re only reaching X amount of households, does it matter? And when we started the journey, and I recall, when we first started with the Self Reliance index, and kind of saying, Okay, we need to know for ourselves before we can tell people and before we can communicate our story, we need to know internally, are we making a difference? Where do we need to make improvements? Before we kind of can be so that not, not just so we can relay the story, but so we can understand internally. What, impact we’re making? And I think that was the core is it allowed us to take on a better quantitative understanding, by looking at the data in real-time, I’m saying, Okay, this is what we’ve come out with when we measured our data, this is what it’s telling us we need to fix this is the these are the gaps that we are looking that we need to that we’ve identified in the process that we need to kind of come in as a social enterprise, or where we can maybe refer off other organizations because maybe we can’t take responsibility for them as a company. So I think impact measurement is not just to report on things, but also so that you, as a company know where you, you fit into the larger equation when you’re working with these different, you know, communities or beneficiaries or, you know, whatever social you know, issue that you’re identifying, and working with.

Jacqueline Sofia (SITTI)  57:42
I think a lot of people believe that they need to have endured touched on this, like, they need to affect 1000s, if not hundreds of 1000s of people at one time to be impactful. And I think that’s, a lot of people get caught up in the numbers game, right? And so they’re like, Okay, let’s figure out a way to tell this story. So that we say we’re, we’re employing 5000 people instead of 500, or 500 people instead of 50. Because we gave this person a job one time to do something. And, that doesn’t equate to long-term impact. That’s one day when you gave that person a job. And that’s it, you know, and so, for us, impact means long-term impact, it means, okay, we are providing you with a job long term that you and it’s, it’s the definition of impact is based on that community’s needs. And what they determine impact is, it’s not about what we think the impact is as Jackie and Nora. And I mean, Sophia, our co-founder, she’s a member of this community, and oftentimes in conversation, she’ll interject and she’ll be like, guys, like, let’s have a conversation with everybody, let’s figure out what they need first. And that’s really what it comes down to is like, we can talk all day about un SDGs and all of this stuff, but you can choose a un SDG you want to measure as part of your social enterprise, but that might not be the UN SDG goal that’s important to that community. That community might be like, actually, the most important thing to us is decent work and economic growth, not necessarily, you know, ending, you know, poverty and all its forms, but first we just need to have jobs or we just need this. And, you know, for us it. It was a learning process. It wasn’t something that we understood overnight. And for a long time. I think we thought that our mission was more focused on education, but then it turned out that education A lot of these women were past their educational, you know, stage of life where they were like, able to take the time to go to university and like, get a degree, they needed a job now, or yesterday. So, I mean, I think there’s the numbers game that people try to play. But for us, we’re not a unicorn, you know, we’re, everybody’s like trying to be the next unicorn. And we’re a workhorse like, we go out and we sit with the community, we sit with our three artisans. And then the two community-based organizations that we work with day in and day out. And we fly out to Jordan, and we sit down with them, and we ask them, What do you need? So

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:00:47
These are all such important points because the impact is such a big word, it is so vague, it is so different in so many different organizations, and you can pull on so many different strings to try to impact the result of a particular type of impact. Like it’s, it’s very complicated. I think, for so many organizations, I feel this leading a nonprofit as well. It’s not just the number of lives that you touch, it’s the depth of what that engagement looks like the utility of that experience, the helpfulness of it, but how do you sort of measure some of these even like warm and fuzzies that, you know, if somebody gets very inspired by a program that leads them to sort of change behavior, that measurement, that obsession with numbers that we come back to, that’s not going to capture the whole sentiment that’s felt around and experience, and I find myself I gravitate to the numbers like I show me the data, show me a concrete goal that I can then sort of track too. And that’s, that’s complicated, you need a Northstar. And you need some type of guiding light that you can rally around. But there is so much more, there’s so much more depth in that conversation than just, you know, we’re trying to meet a sales target. And that is what everybody is aligning to. So it’s complicated listeners, just kind of like a key message here.

Noora Shaarab (SITTI)  1:02:04
What you noted was, was, it’s also very important, because when you’re running a social enterprise, and you’re engaging with impact investors and different people that are in that industry, and then you have conversations with them about what you’re trying to achieve, and they’re like, Huh, that’s not really like super impactful, like, we’re looking for something bigger. And so it often leaves us questioning, like, but we are making an impact, but it is impacting a community. But right, and oftentimes, you’re forced to be put into these bubbles of like identifications of what is considered the true impact and what isn’t. And then I’ve had, I’ve been in, you know, Zoom calls pitching for Citi, and I’ve been told, that’s not scalable, that’s not, you know, the impact we’re looking to invest in, and I’m like, well, in the real world, like it not, you know, I don’t know, like, I’ve seen organizations, and often, Jackie, and I will like chuckle when we read an article about organizations that we’re familiar with, that will be like, you know, we’ve created 3000 employees, you know, jobs. And I’m like, we would know, you would know if you walk into, you know,

Jacqueline Sofia (SITTI)  1:03:11
like, 20,000 people, yeah, and you see 3000 households, you see three, making a living, like, that wouldn’t change. Everything,

Noora Shaarab (SITTI)  1:03:23
It changes the ecosystem, right? Like, you know, when you are creating those 3000 jobs that you’re saying that you’re creating, we should see that impact from the ecosystem side, we should see people pulling themselves out of debt, starting to spend more on the economy like there is, it’s, it’s a trickle effect, it’s not just one person getting a job, and you’re done. It’s really just about moving systems and moving, you know, elements within that community at its core, and then, you know, and creating that domino effect outside, but you don’t see that sometimes because there’s a problem with the numbers, it’s not adding up, there’s something that they’re saying they’re doing something, but really, it doesn’t trickle down to, to see it in real-time. And that’s something we’re always very careful, very conservative when we share our numbers because we’re like, are we truly actually touching and impacting these people? Or was this a one-off? You know, like, we won’t, we won’t identify someone that only works with us one day for, you know, a sub position or a job? Because that wasn’t a long term. You know, that wasn’t something long-term. And I think it’s important to hold organizations accountable that do share those big numbers to say like, are you making that large of an impact? Because we should see that at the core.

Jacqueline Sofia (SITTI)  1:04:36
And I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t say we’re conservative, we’re just thinking about it. Like we’re we just take a more thoughtful approach. And that’s not to say there aren’t other organizations, other companies, or social enterprises out there that are doing the same thing. There certainly are, but it’s not the trend. It’s not like Nora was saying you have impact investors sometimes that will come through and, and see the thoughtfulness and see the intention and the work that’s behind that impact strategy. And they’ll be like, okay, like, I see what you’re doing here. And other people are like, I just want to be able to say that I invested in a company that impacted 5000 people no matter how it did it if it was for one day or 100 days. So that’s really, I think, also in the investment side of things and talking about investment readiness, you need to be ready to know who you are as a company before you go seeking out investors. And that’s part of the reason why we’re like, we haven’t sought investors yet, because we needed the time to understand ourselves as an organization as a company to be confident in who we were before we started going to investors and pitching ourselves and trying to like fit into their definition of impact.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:05:53
And Seagal bringing this back to your experience with so many of the different founders and leaders that you work with? How do you conceptualize or sort of share recommendations on reach versus impact? Are there considerations or frameworks like I think, Jackie, Nora, the tool that you mentioned, illustrations like that, like, Are there any resources that social enterprises or social entrepreneurs can use to demonstrate the potential but also be authentic and honest around what that kind of depth of true impact they’re able to achieve on an individual or collective level? Is? That’s a big question.

Sagal Dualeh (IRP)  1:06:33
Yeah, I mean, I’m completely I think neuron Jackie, really, really described it well, kind of the challenges to measuring impact and understanding it understand the difference between reach and impact. For us as fundraising, kind of, I’ll answer your question differently, Caleb, but I think, for us, what we see is because we have a bird’s eye view of the different organizations that apply for funding, communicate the story, and communicating impact is not a one size fits all approach. And in no way, because each organization is so different, has a different way of sharing information, and has a different story to tell. It is I think, maybe a little bit generic. But it’s I think it’s extremely important to adapt the contents to adapt the information, how you tell the story for the audience you’re trying to reach, and in terms of kind of impact measurement and data analysis and kind of gathering the evidence base behind it. There are different frameworks that we share with organizations. Sometimes we share the common approach, which is one of the organizations in Canada as part of the investment readiness program ecosystem, their service providers across Canada support organizations to delve into this work a lot more so that they can understand how to measure impact, what is their strategy? How do I communicate my story, there are folks like lift impact partners, I think, who were doing a fantastic job. You know, really being a great service provider, they, they’ve honed in on this expertise. And this area of impact measurements, they have a lot of one on one coaching opportunities, and they do a lot of blenkindskind of collective learning. Social enterprises and organizations, do a lot of online content, unfortunately, in person because of some of the restrictions of the last couple of years. But they’re a wonderful resource. And a great organization to contact in terms of understanding what impact measurement is and how to kind of work within your organization to understand that through the IRP program, what we’ve done is in addition to kind of the funding model, we do provide, sometimes some wraparound supports not so much as the same level et Cie as incubators or accelerators type programs. But we do provide some kind of holistic measures to support organizations on their journey. So in addition to the funding, we put them in touch with experts, like lift Philanthropy Partners or lift impact partners, like organizations like in a wave, or you know, those that are in the ecosystem, in the IRP to connect them to those types of expertise that have the very specific skills and technical assistance that’s needed for kind of measuring impact, not to say that every organization needs to contact an expert to help them kind of figure out what how to tell their story, communicate impact, but it is a resource that’s available. And many organizations are doing this work. In terms of kind of the cohort that we’ve worked with on a day-to-day basis. We do share something we call a self-assessment investment Readiness Tool, which includes a whole bunch of questions about impact measurements and communicating your story. And we asked folks to complete this questionnaire we do a phone call with them, we walked them through it. And we ask them to complete it. Again, it is kind of the end of the project to try to measure progress, like what happened at the beginning will happen to the end at the end. And you know Where were the learnings? Where were the improvements? What didn’t work? Where were the challenges? And so we do that as part of each cyclical hurt that receives funding. And so I think impact measurement doesn’t is a very interesting topic. I don’t think there’s one definition in particular as neuron and Jackie Jacqueline has said, but it is really interesting to me because like, I think you Kayla, I love numbers. And I like evidence and data gathering. But data and numbers don’t tell the full story. And so there’s another kind of perspective that needs to be taken into account.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:10:37
Different pieces of the puzzle. I love it. So wrapping up what has been a fantastic conversation I think you got we could go down this impact measurement. For a completely another podcast episode. Jacqueline and Nora, I would love to get your final thoughts looking at your business pre-IRP, and post-IRP, what was the impact that IRP has had on your business? What insights have you gained through this process? And what’s next for you both at Citi,


Noora Shaarab (SITTI)  1:11:06

I would say, receiving the IRP funding allowed us to take risks that we normally probably wouldn’t have taken as a business, you know, risks involving money that, you know, if it like that allowed us to kind of be able to be a little bit more aggressive in our approach and you know, pivot and do something that normally would have been a lot harder if we didn’t have the funding. Post-IRP, we’re going to be applying again. Um, so, you know, excited to use the learnings that we had, but also continue to grow in the process and continue to take from the learnings that, you know, we’ve had in our journey with the previous funding, but also looking at what we can continue to do with existing funding that is available through you know, this, the social finance realm, that is Allah is, you know, being granted in Canada, and I think sometimes organizations don’t realize that you should take advantage, these are opportunities granted by the government, like you, you know, you, you should go out for it, you know, take advantage of it, grab it if you can, because if it helps you a little bit, you know, that’s going a long way. So that’s, that’s that impact right there. And for us, it’s, you know, every little bit sometimes helps, you know, businesses like ours, you know, a women-owned social enterprise serving refugee populations, you know, helping us get not as a unicorn company, but a little bit, you know, bigger a little bit greater in terms of what we can kind of service and how we can achieve our mission at the end of the day.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:12:47
So the goal, any final words of wisdom to share with our listeners, from your perspective? What was foundation

Sagal Dualeh (IRP)  1:12:53
Apply! like Nora said, take advantage of the funding and take advantage of the program, get in contact, call email. We have our ERP staff available to kind of answer your questions. And yeah, just be aware that the next funding cycle we’ll be launching in November, end of November, and not to make sure that you give us a phone call. I think that I cannot reiterate that anymore. It’s really important to just get in contact with us because we do want to encourage as many organizations as possible to access this funding.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:13:30
Sing it!  I love it. I love it. Very clear call to action listeners. You’ve got tools, you’ve got support, you’ve got the wraparound services. And you’ve got some great stories of inspiration from Jacqueline and Nora from today. Thank you so much to you all for joining us on the startup woman podcast. This has been a fabulous episode. And thanks for taking the time with me today

Jacqueline Sofia (SITTI)  1:13:49
Thanks, Kayla.

Noora Shaarab (SITTI)  1:13:51
Thank you so much, Kayla.

Kayla Isabelle (Startup Canada)  1:13:53

To learn more about Nora, Jacqueline, and SITT’s social enterprise. Head to www. S I T T I soap dot com to learn more and prepare. For the next round of IRP funding, head to IRP dash P P I dot com. Thank you so much for joining us on the startup women podcast where we are committed to telling the stories of women entrepreneurs and uncovering actionable advice that goes beyond the surface level. The Startup Women Podcast is produced by Lauren Hicks and Maddie Stiles and is made possible with the support of BDC and Scotiabank, so we can continue to power women-identifying entrepreneurs. Visit startup can.ca. To explore the startup women’s flagship program and access advisory support and free resources. Be sure to check out the show notes to access important links, resources, and information that we mentioned during today’s episode. Thank you for listening and we look forward to another Their episode next month

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