Robyn Cyr, Carmen Massey, Kari Wilkinson, Caroline Grover, Jenna Robins are the team behind the Shuswap’s Tsuts’weye Women’s Entrepreneur and Innovation Network. (Kristal Burgess photo)

Robyn Cyr, Carmen Massey, Kari Wilkinson, Caroline Grover, Jenna Robins are the team behind the Shuswap’s Tsuts’weye Women’s Entrepreneur and Innovation Network. (Kristal Burgess photo)

Tsuts’weye project positioned to help Shuswap business women through pandemic

Tsuts’weye Women’s Entrepreneur and Innovation Network has busy first year

Everything has changed, but nothing has changed.

For Carmen Massey, this quote, a favourite of hers, became more pertinent with the arrival of COVID-19.

The Tsuts’weye Women’s Entrepreneur and Innovation Network project manager said if anything, the pandemic has only amplified challenges facing women in business. Thankfully, the foundation for the program, now into its second year, was set before the pandemic hit and, while some changes were required to comply with health restrictions, it has been able to deliver needed supports.

“We couldn’t have known a pandemic was coming and how critical a project like this could be in our community…,” said Massey, noting public response to the program has been phenomenal, but she believes that would have happened regardless of COVID. Because again, while everything has changed…

Massey explained there are four pillars, four key ways the Tsuts’weye Women’s Entrepreneur and Innovation Network offers support to women: through a mentor and consultant program; providing network opportunities; creating and facilitating training and skill development opportunities; and marketing the strength of women entrepreneurs in the community.

With the networking aspect, Massey said COVID necessitated smaller group gatherings and the addition of more online workshops and programs.

“It started out with much more face to face…,” said Massey. “That is more fulfilling, it’s more enjoyable.”

Massey said in-person workshops are still happening, albeit with reduced numbers in attendance.

“We’re trying to provide opportunities for face to face within very strict protocols but we’ll see how things go and if we have to, we always have a back up plan,” said Massey.

The word “tsuts’weye” means butterfly in Secwepemc. Massey explained this refers to the “butterfly effect,” the transformation that occurs when women are empowered and the far-reaching effects that can have. The program itself is a three-year initiative funded through Western Economic Diversification Canada, and facilitated locally through Community Futures Shuswap.

In its first year, the program and its various services and supports were utilized by 91 women in the Shuswap.

“Obviously, at COVID time, we saw a lot of people wanting to pivot their businesses online and restructuring,” said Massey. “We had quite a few women contact us just because they were struggling to just stay open with all the uncertainty and the stress.”

In addition to being a resource, the Tsuts’weye Women’s Entrepreneur and Innovation Network also celebrates businesswomen in the Shuswap, of which about 70 are included on the Tsuts’weye Network’s website.

Looking ahead, Massey said there is still much work to be done. One focus for the coming year will be diversity.

“We’re committed to making all four of those pillars accessible and reflective of diverse women, so young women, indigenous women, Metis women, new Canadian and refugee women, LGBTQ women, rural women, there’s a lot of barriers to women just being rural in business and having access to capital, access to services, access to expertise.

“We have a long way to go with diversity this coming year, our commitment is to making our project truly diverse and addressing the needs of diverse communities in the Shuswap…”

Coming up in November, the Tsuts’weye Women’s Entrepreneur and Innovation Network will be offering a program to support indigenous women in tourism.

More information about the Tsuts’weye Women’s Entrepreneur and Innovation Network can be found at tsutsweye.ca, and on the network’s Facebook page.

Read more: Inspirational sessions set for female entrepreneurs in the Shuswap

Read more: New project to support women entrepreneurs launched in Shuswap

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

BusinessSalmon Arm

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gardener’s Diary: Show your houseplants some love

Vernon gardening columnist turns to Farmer’s Almanac for how-to tips ahead of winter season

On Nov. 8, 2017 as the search was called off, white tents and black privacy fencing were no longer visible at the Sagmoen farm in Silver Creek and fewer police vehicles were present. (File photo)
Several police vehicles seen at and around Sagmoen farm in Shuswap Thursday night

RCMP at Silver Creek property where the remains of an 18-year-old Vernon woman were found in 2017

The Downtown Vernon Association is requesting free parking on Saturdays in 2021 to boost recovery efforts of businesses amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
Free Saturday parking in Vernon must wait for budget talks

Downtown Vernon Association request to boost shopping local amid pandemic

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Crime up 31 per cent in Vernon in 2019: Statistics Canada

Increase includes a 45 per cent rise in violent Criminal Code violations

City of Vernon councillors vote in favour of extending opportunities to activate outdoor spaces and patios until Oct. 31, 2021, in its Oct. 26, 2020, meeting of council. (City of Vernon - Contributed)
Vernon patio season extended amid COVID-19

City extends temporary measures to boost local businesses downtown

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Superintendent of the Kelowna RCMP, Kara Triance. (Capital News file)
Non-violent crime, small population contributes to Kelowna’s crime rate spike, says RCMP

Kelowna RCMP is assuring the public the city is a safe place

A study by SlotsOnlineCanada notes there is at least 88 hours of top-rated horror movies for Canadians to consume this Halloween. (Unsplash)
Spooks and Chill study reveals Canada’s favourite horror flicks

88 hours of top-rated horror movies can fill COVID-19 Halloween

A Tuesday Oct. 27, 2020 apartment fire in Penticton killed two and displaced dozens more. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Fatal Penticton apartment fire deemed accidental

The blaze gutted an apartment building on Tuesday morning, killing two people and displacing dozens

A nurse performs a test on a patient at a drive-in COVID-19 clinic in Montreal, on Wednesday, October 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Interior Health reports seven more COVID-19 cases

Eighty-nine cases remain active, none of whom are currently hospitalized

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

This Photoshopped version of the crosswalks near the entrance to the Salmon Arm Arts Centre on Hudson Avenue show what is proposed to help create safety for and show inclusivity to the LGBTQ2S+ community. (Salmon Arm Arts Centre image)
Tri-rainbow crosswalk and Progress flag requested to help make Salmon Arm safe

Council will consider budget requests to help make city inclusive to LBGTQ2S+ community

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

Most Read