The research told them that these women were often the sole providers for their families, couldn’t take time away from work, didn’t have access to technology or had financial barriers.
But they had a keen interest in learning new skills – often inspired by seeing their kids do the same.
Keeping these barriers top of mind, CompuCorps transformed the way they delivered workshops.
They rallied a team of about 25 volunteers to lead training on topics like social media, e-commerce, and cybersecurity.
Instead of a consecutive series of group classes at the same time every week, they offered individualized workshops for smaller groups and were flexible with timing. They created drop-in days where women could come in to get one on one help with a volunteer. Osman said she was getting messages at all hours from participants experimenting with their website, or excited to share something new they’d learned.
“Participants were very vocal about what skills they wants to acquire. They had a lot of robust entrepreneurial spirit and were picking up on concepts quicker than you would’ve thought,” said Osman.
Michele Bourque (pictured above) is a First Nations woman and Indige-preneurs participant. The idea to bring her bricks and mortar business Kwemaa online and create a new brand came from one of the sessions. She now sells clothing products online that help improve health and wellness.
The series of workshops that helped people like Michele was made possible through a grant from CIRA’s Community Investment Program.
Setting up your business online
CompuCorps created 15 specialized courses, and brought in expert guest speakers from local Ottawa businesses and trained volunteers to support participants as well. The curriculum included topics like:
- Security online, as an entrepreneur
- Social media marketing
- Launching an online store
- Market research for e-commerce
Participants left workshops armed with resources and a toolkit for setting up their business online, choosing a domain name, building the brand and setting up an online store.
CompuCorps got support from local Ottawa companies like Shopify, an online commerce platform for businesses, and Rebel, a registrar that sells domain names, to help participants get set up with their own websites and online stores.
Indige-preneurs became one of CompuCorps’ biggest digital literacy programs. They were aiming for 80 participants through the program but have now had more than 200 women get support through the program to build their business online.