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What’s Up Minister Ng?

Join PK Mutch, publisher of LIisBeth Media in short (10 minutes) pop up interview with Canadian Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion where Minister Ng talks informally about her goals for women entrepreneurs in Canada and what’s next for the Canadian federal government’s  Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy.


For more information on The Fifth Wave, Canada’s first feminist business accelerator, click here. Fifth Wave is an initiative of the Canadian Film Centre (CFC) and supports womxn founders in digital media.



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Sample Newsletter


Photo by Stevens Marallana on Unsplash



We all know media bias exists. Just take a look at how each of these four Canadian mainstream newspapers positioned the dismissal of Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott from the Liberal government’s caucus in early April.

Notice the editor’s choice of photos. Check out the headlines. Was it really necessary to shout “Tuesday Night Massacre” on the front page knowing that for some women, those words might have invoked the memory of a tragic event in Canadian history? The Montreal Massacre happened twenty-eight years ago where 14 women were killed by a male shooter at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec.

Consider the picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the cover of the Toronto Sun, and the accompanying headline: “Fake Feminist.”

For our readers outside of Canada, all these stories reported on Trudeau’s handling of a local corporate bully (SNC Lavalin, an engineering firm) and its efforts to delay prosecution over its use of public money to pay bribes to governments overseas (illegal in Canada). The situation led to a sizeable “he said/she said” drama between the Prime Minister, his office, and the Office of the Attorney General. The result was the removal of two smart, competent women from the Liberal government’s famous 50/50 caucus.

With great concern for how power influenced process, the nation debated whether or not Trudeau is authentic about his commitment to see women advance in society. Trudeau famously said: “Because it’s 2015” a comment on Canada’s first gender-balanced cabinet, the same man who just expelled two women from caucus.

As the fake feminist/real feminist conversation misted the political newscape of “We the North” land, and even made The New York Times, many of us who identify strongly as feminists, heaved a weary sigh.

In her New York Times Bestseller, Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay writes: “The more I write, the more I put myself out there as a bad feminist…but [at least] I am being open about what I am and who I was and where I have faltered and who I would like to become.” Gay’s book talks about the fact that despite her feminist identity, pink is her favorite colour and she sings along to catchy misogynist hip-hop songs.

Gay compassionately and beautifully makes the point that there is no perfect feminist—and counts herself among one of the most imperfect feminists around. Feminism is a huge, global, social movement. Complex, pluralistic, and hard on those who pick up the gauntlet. Everyone in it is learning. All the time. But rather than give up on the movement’s objectives and demands, Gay concludes her book by saying, “I am a bad feminist. [But] I would rather be a bad feminist than no feminist at all.”

I’m not letting Trudeau and his team off the hook. But as someone who lives in a province (Ontario) with a non-feminist provincial government working to lower the cost of beer, save money by reducing support for mid-wiveswomen’s shelters, library services, and implementing roll-backs on progressive sex-education, I can safely say that I would prefer a bad feminist government, than no feminist government at all.






Feminist Initiative leader Gudrun Schyman meets activists in Norway. Photo: Mimika Kirgios
(Gudrun Schyman centre stage wearing glasses)


If the Nordic diet ensures a healthier lifestyle, what can Nordic politics do for a more inclusive society? The Feministiskt Initiativ (FI) is a feminist political party founded in Sweden almost 20 years ago. Since then, many other European countries have followed suit.

What about the rest of the world? Few know that Canada once had a feminist party. The Feminist Party of Canada (FCP) was founded by Angela Miles. Women and men joined the party in 1979. The purpose was to “participate in electoral politics while transforming them along feminist lines. The media often included the Feminist Party when seeking statements or public appearances from political parties, which gave the FPC a strong public presence.” The party lasted three years. To learn more about it, click here.

Turns out that 40 years later, we are still struggling with the same issues. Perhaps the lack of a feminist party is part of the reason why.

We need to politicize the question of why feminist parties are needed now more than ever until it becomes OBVIOUS.

When film critic and writer Annika Andersson contacted LiisBeth about her idea to interview Sweden’s FI party founder, Gudrun Schyman, we put the story on our list.  You voted yes (LiisBeth December Story Poll) and we commissioned the work.

Andersson flew all the way to Sweden to conduct in person interviews with both Schyman, and incoming leader, Gita Nabavi, to learn how human rights are at the forefront of their mandate and why they’re called the Home Party-party. Read the full story HERE.

Speaking of politics, thank you for voting. This story happened because of YOU. The article won the vote in our first reader poll. You voted, we got to work. #collectiveaction

April 15th: Minister Mary Ng announcing $2.5M investment into SheEO, a Canadian-based, global initiative designed to radically transform the way we finance, support, and celebrate female entrepreneurs. Photo: SheEO Twitter Feed


News media organization Al Jazeera‘s election tracking website says “Nearly two billion voters in 50 countries around the world will head to the polls [in 2019] to elect their leaders.” Realizing that political power is an effective way to drive change—many women are shaking off fears and running as candidates for the first time. But it’s not an easy job to be a politician. Even harder to become a candidate. 

Many of us in the women’s entrepreneurship space in Canada see a lot of the Minister for Small Business and Export Promotiom, Mary Ng.

We thought we would ask Minister Ng about her start in politics. We hope it inspires others to consider the path. See our interview here.

A Nightwood Society panel discussion on the future of food with Michelle Battista, Salt & Straw’s Kim Malek, Alison Wu of Wu Haus, Nong’s Khao Man Gai founder Nong Poonsukwattana, and chef/food activist Arlyn Frank of Platano Rising.
Panel held by Cherry Bombe, a magazine devoted to women in food.


Portland, Oregon, USA. Known for coffee, eco-friendly bike paths, Ursula K. Le Guin and the Nightwood Society. From art to food, and crafts to music, this company has reinvented the idea of horizontal growth: doing a bunch of interesting things that complement each other. They’re complex and super cool.

Nightwood Society is a unique collective that is taking collaboration to the next level. Full story here.

Powerbitches founder, Rachel Hills


What’s so different about this feminist community network? For starters, it was founded by Rachel Hills, a feminist writer, producer, and movement-maker whose work has been published in The New York Times, Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, The GuardianThe Atlantic, Vogue, Buzzfeed, The Cut, and many more. Hills is also the author of “The Sex Myth” which was written to help make sense of the feelings of shame and difference she felt about her own sexual history.

Powerbitches is hosting an event focused on feminist entrepreneurship on May 13th. Fearless Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum (EFF) co-founder Lex Schroeder is on the speakers list. But you have to be a member to participate. To learn more about this organization, read our interview with Rachel Hills here.


Innerspace is a tech company that wants to help Google figure out where you are going while inside a building.  Apparently Google can tell what building you are in, but can’t see if you are in the bathroom or lunch room or at your desk once inside. A few weeks ago, Innerspace received venture investment from the Business Development Bank of Canada’s (BDC) Women in Technology Fund.

Those close to the company questioned its qualifications as a women-led tech company given there was only one woman on the team in the role of Chief Marketing Officer.

LiisBeth decided to dig in and check out the investments made since the fund started in 2016. You can find the results here. The punchline? The fund has a very low benchmark for what qualifies as a women-led tech company. The good news is that with the will to lead, BDC could change that going forward. An even better idea? Get out of the way and hand the fund’s management over to a collective of women in tech.

Have you had an experience with BDC’s WIT fund? Use the comment box at the bottom of the article to share your story or thoughts.


Grammy award-winner Lucinda Williams and a host of top Canadian and U.S. journalists will mark the Canadian Journalism Foundation’s (CJF) second World News Day on May 2nd in Toronto. Brian Stelter, chief media correspondent for CNN Worldwide and host of Reliable Sources, will emcee.

LiisBeth subscribers are eligible for complimentary tickets here with promo code: NEWSMATTERS

Speakers include: Manisha Krishnan, senior writer and host with VICE on covering weed, opioids and #MeToo, Connie Walker, host of CBC News podcast Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo, and Julian Brave NoiseCat, journalist, on telling Indigenous stories, Hannah Alper, teenage activist, blogger and author, in conversation with Brian Stelter, and more. See the full list of speakers here.

World News Day takes place on the eve of World Press Freedom Day to celebrate the stories, the people, the reporting and the professional news organizations that are dedicated to changing lives, challenging the status quo, holding those in power to account and supporting freedom and democracy.


Pramila Jayapal / Photo: Fathom Film Group


In the era of Trump and the #Me Too movement, Hunting in Packs is a provocative documentary film about three female politicians in Britain, the United States, and Canada negotiating their way through the old-school institution of politics.

“Things have gotten to the point where the absurdity of it all is beyond reason,” says Toronto based filmmaker Chloe Sosa-Sims. “Political farce has long lived as a genre in narrative film, but it no longer needs to exist in a parallel world of fiction, it’s our reality.”

The documentary follows three different women in three different countries who exist in parallel. They speak on world stages and perform with glowing confidence; they are policy makers, advocates and experts in their fields. Behind-the-scenes, their humanity is exposed as we get face-to-face with the reality of their livelihood; battling it out with less than worthy opponents, facing on-going ridicule when not towing the party-line, and encountering harsh contempt from the public. They are entirely different from one another, but are connected by an invisible thread.

Jess Phillips in the UK receives thousands of rape and death threats a year, largely because of her feminist rhetoric. Worse though, is much of the threats come from within her own party – the Labour party.

In the US, Pramila Jayapal has many radical proposals; sitting on the committee that will consider Trump’s impeachment, calling for Medi-care for all, and demanding reparations be paid to families separated at the border. As always, Republicans will shut her down, but there are some moderate democrats who are afraid that Pramila is too progressive and is creating a counterproductive narrative about Democrats seeking open borders.

Canadian Conservative Michelle Rempel believes the liberals are not properly handling the refugee crisis. On the other hand, she is fighting for more supports for the Yazidi community, especially the women who have been violated by sexual slavery.

“These women stand up for what they believe in and don’t let others, and the patriarchal nature of politics, hold them back,” says Sosa-Sims. “They are all forwarding policies that directly benefit these communities. And they are all driven by their personal commitment to feminism.”

Hunting in Packs is in early stages of production. The film is produced by Fathom Film Group, a women-led production company who doesn’t let the patriarchal nature of filmmaking hold them back.

CanWACH Director, Julie Savard-Shaw at a Mobilization event in Edmonton.


Investing in girls and women affects the economy and keeping girls and women healthy is paramount.

The Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health (CanWaCH) catalyzes collaboration among 100 partners who are improving women’s and children’s health globally. CanWaCH will be on site June 3rd to 6th in Vancouver at the Canadian Pavillion at the Women Deliver 2019 conference. The three-day event is the world’s largest gathering on gender equality and the health, rights and wellbeing of women and girls. Over 7,000 experts, journalists, activists, world leaders and youth will come to Canada for the conference, including LiisBeth! CanWaCH is using this huge momentum of the event to push for improved leadership on gender equality.

“We want to ensure that Women Deliver 2019 is not just a moment but springboard for action and real change,” says Caitlin Reid, Senior Communications Officer at CanWaCH.

Exactly one year ago they launched a campaign inviting organizations to host an event at the Canadian Pavillion and over 300 organizations signed on to join as “Mobilizers”. “They are all taking concrete actions to improve gender equality,” says Reid.

CanWaCH’s Month of Action starts on May 7th and will run until the conference begins in June. They will call on Mobilizers, and the public, to take final actions right up to the beginning of the conference. Reid says: “It will be the most important time for us to increase our shared impact and attention at the national stage.”

CanWaCH has secured Steamworks brew pub as HQ during the three-day event. Less than a ten-minute walk away from the conference at the Vancouver Convention Centre, the Canada Pavilion will be the go-to location for approximately 49 different events hosted by Canadian organizations between June 2nd to 7th, alongside the Women Deliver Conference.

Themes for the programming will be focused on women and children’s health. Mobilization events will be about achieving gender equality here in Canada and around the world.

Each event will have its own RSVP process and many will be open to the public and some will be live-streamed. Stay tuned for schedule updates coming soon.

Curbside view of Toronto’s oldest feminist bookstop


Toronto-based feminist bookstore, Another Story Bookshop has been operating in the west end of the city for over 30 years. The store sells a broad range of literature for children, young adults, and adults with a focus on themes of social justice, equity, and diversity. It also holds and hosts over 50 events per year. Its May 6th event at Lula Lounge is sold out. The evening will feature feminist crush adrienne maree brown, author of Emergent Strategy and her new book, Pleasure Activism plus other guests like Chanelle Gallant, a long time activist, writer and trainer with a focus on sex and justice.

A few weeks ago, we visited the shop to learn more about how this independent feminist bookstore has managed to thrive in the age.

To listen to our interview with the store’s event planner, Anjula Gogia, CLICK THE LINK at the bottom of the photo below. And if you didn’t get a ticket to the event (tickets were free but you had to sign up), don’t worry, we got you covered. LiisBeth will be conducting a video interview with Brown at the event. We are excited to share the chat with you all in our next refresh!

Want to order Brown’s latest book, or any book? Another Story ships anywhere! To order, and support indie bookstores, click here.

To hear the interview click here.

Photo: Emmy Legge, Customer Service (Left) and Anjula Gogia, Event Planner (Right)



We have updated our LiisBeth recommended reading list for feminist innovators and entrepreneurs! To download a collectively and carefully curated list of books, articles, and links that are central to the concept of feminist entrepreneurship, click here.

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Seeking: PROFILES of kick ass entrepreneurial feminists.

The City of Toronto contracted LiisBeth for the “Unapologetic: Feminist Founders in the City” (working title)

Hooray! We’ll be doing TEN profiles of feminist entrepreneurs who are changing the way businesses are designed and operated between now and December 2019.

We would LOVE to replicate this series in other cities and towns. But will need an editorial partner. Let us know if you are interested.

If you’re not sure if a business/person/company qualifies, this will help: Does Your Enterprise Meet the Feminist Business Standard?

We’ve got some ideas but we want to hear from YOU. What if we could make this initiative happen in communities around the world?

Send us your pitch HERE. A paragraph about a feminist entrepreneur in your community and why they should be featured.

Last month we asked readers which story we should publish next. We received only a handful of responses. But hey, our view is that it takes time for readers to get to know how this works—and that voting does work. (See Gudrun Schyman story above.)

The winning pitch from last month is: A story of the legacy left behind following the Wakefield, UK miners’ strike which was famously supported by gay and lesbian organizations—and serves as an example of an intersectional movement long before the word was coined. Readers are wondering what Wakefield is like now? Did activism have a lasting impact? We will be contacting the journalist shortly!


Twenty-Three Leading Feminist Writers on Protest and Solidarity

When 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump and 94 percent of black women voted for Hillary Clinton, how can women unite in Trump’s America? Nasty Women includes inspiring essays from a diverse group of talented women writers who seek to provide a broad look at how we got here and what we need to do to move forward.

Featuring essays by REBECCA SOLNIT on Trump and his “misogyny army,” CHERYL STRAYED on grappling with the aftermath of Hillary Clinton’s loss, SARAH HEPOLA on resisting the urge to drink after the election, NICOLE CHUNG on family and friends who support Trump, KATHA POLLITT on the state of reproductive rights and what we do next, JILL FILIPOVIC on Trump’s policies and the life of a young woman in West Africa, SAMANTHA IRBY on racism and living as a queer black woman in rural America, RANDA JARRAR on traveling across the country as a queer Muslim American, SARAH HOLLENBECK on Trump’s cruelty toward the disabled, MEREDITH TALUSAN on feminism and the transgender community, and SARAH JAFFE on the labor movement and active and effective resistance, among others.

Jenni Murray gives the lie to Thomas Carlyle’s infamous declaration that ‘the history of the world is but the biography of great men.’ Women have played just as great a role in the story of humankind, only for their own tales to be marginalised, censored and forgotten. Their names should be shouted from the rooftops.

Marie Curie discovered radium and revolutionised medical science. Empress Cixi transformed China. Frida Kahlo turned an unflinching eye on life and death. In A History of the World in 21 Women, Jenni Murray celebrates the lives, struggles and achievements of some of the most extraordinary people to have ever walked the Earth. They ruled empires, they led nations. They were pioneers in the arts and geniuses of science. They led while others followed, spoke truth to power and fought for change. All left behind an indelible mark.

‘Charming…[Murray’s] selection is pleasingly varied… but the strength of the collection lies in Murray’s relaxed and intimate style…  a testament to the achievements and the complicated legacies, of extraordinary women.’ (BBC History Magazine)

Recommended by Another Story Bookshop, Toronto, Canada.


  • Mental health conditions or addictions can get in the way of employment for many. Fortunately, Rise Asset Development, a unique entrepreneur support organization provides training and access to startup loans of up to $10K for aspiring entrepreneurs with mental health challenges. Their seven week youth program for aspiring entrepreneurs starts in July, 2019. If you or someone you know is a Canadian citizen, aged 16-24 and lives in Toronto, sign up today. Sign up here!
  • Slovakia voted in its first female president last month. Zuzana Čaputová, a 45-year-old lawyer and anti-corruption campaigner, won 58.4% of the votes in Saturday’s poll and will take office in June. She campaigned on platform of humanism, solidarity and truth. “Let us look for what connects us. Let us promote cooperation above personal interests,” she told a crowd of supporters in Bratislava. The full article is in The Guardian here.
  • Naomi Klein’s article in The Intercept includes the seven-minute short film “A Message From the Future” narrated by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and offers this thought experiment: What if we chose to radically change course and save both our habitat and ourselves? See for yourself here.

Huzzah! That was newsletter #52! It brings you up to date for another month.

To donate one time or become a donor subscriber, click here.

Next newsletter will come out in late May! Don’t miss it! 

Peace out,


Feds Drop $9 Million Into Women’s Entre-preneurship

Day two of the Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum 2018 in Toronto

The federal government has awarded Ryerson University $9 million over three years to fund a Women’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) to advance research into women’s entrepreneurship with the goal of increasing participation of women in the economy.

Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, who worked in the President’s Office at Ryerson University before becoming a Member of Parliament in the Liberal government, made the announcement this morning, saying WEKH will equip governments and the private sector “with the necessary information to better understand and assist women entrepreneurs in their efforts to start up, scale up and access new markets.”

Currently, only 16 percent of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are women owned. By many estimates, advancing gender equality has the potential to add $150 billion to the Canadian economy by 2026. WEKH is expected to be a one-stop source of knowledge, data and best practices to help governments, organizations and the private sector develop better policies and strategies to grow women’s entrepreneurship.

Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO and a partner in WEKH, hopes the investment will unleash the potential of women’s entrepreneurship. “We have an excellent business case in the women’s entrepreneurship area to show how investing in women will grow the Canadian economy. It’s very exciting to see that a university will take this information and upload research that will power better government policy.” She adds that “Ryerson has been a leading driver of entrepreneurship, innovation and education across the country.”

The Ryerson-led consortium was chosen over one competing bid led by University of Ottawa, which included some of Canada’s top thought leaders in the area of women’s entrepreneurship, notably Barbara Orser, a professor at University of Ottawa and co-author of Feminine Capital: Unlocking the Power of Women Entrepreneurs; Jennifer Jennings, Associate Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Family Enterprise at University of Alberta’s School of Business; Sarah Kaplan, Director of the Institute for Gender and the Economy at Rotman School of Management at University of Toronto; Sandra Altner, CEO of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada; and the MaRS Institute, an innovation hub that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow ventures.

The Ryerson consortium includes eight regional hubs and universities, ten partners and 37 supporters.

The federal government has not lacked for reports making the case that supporting women’s entrepreneurship will strengthen the Canadian economy – more than 30 in the past 30 years, many industry sponsored. The central question now is will this direct federal government investment in university-led research produce relevant policy action and real results?

Says Barbara Orser, who coined the term Entrepreneurial Feminism, “It’s a unique opportunity to ensure a feminist and women-focussed perspective is shared and that only research of the highest quality is profiled. If not, there’s a risk of replicating the stereotypes and mythology of women’s entrepreneurship. Every incubator and accelerator and academic engaged in entrepreneurship should be speed dialled into this new source of information.”

Ryerson University’s Wendy Cukier, the Founder and Director of the Diversity Institute at the Ted Rogers School of Management, says they were thrilled to win the bid. “We don’t see this as an opportunity to do research. We see this as an opportunity to drive change, and the diversity institute has a strong track record in terms of using evidence and research to make things happen. We have pulled together a good network of partners including universities who will be able to grow and sustain (WEKH) beyond the initial funding.” She says that Ryerson will reach out to work with partners beyond the consortium. “The whole point is to aggregate research and information available. The whole point is to map and grow the entire ecosystem.”

Kelly Diels, a Vancouver-based feminist marketing consultant and writer, hopes there is a channel that loops the research hub back to women entrepreneurs so they can turn it into useful information with tools to use in their businesses. That way, “it’s not a report disappears into the ether or was a big project that didn’t actually move back to the people who need it.”

Jena Cameron, Manager of Women Entrepreneurship Policy at Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, says both applications were very strong and equally evaluated against the assessment grid that included things such as partnerships and sustainability. A lot of information on women’s entrepreneurship already exists, says Cameron, so a big part of the plan is to “package information (it) in a way that it becomes accessible to women business support organizations and women entrepreneurs themselves. Go through it and distil nuggets down into practical things that the ecosystem can use.”

Our initial take at LiisBeth? What, another study? This data better lead to change. It will benefit women entrepreneurs if the Ryerson-led consortium reaches out to the other side to tap into Canada’s leading feminist enterprise research and thinkers. Create an open door policy that lets everyone in so everyone can win, including community-based women’s entrepreneurship organizations and feminist entrepreneurs who are often off the mainstream radar.



Sample Newsletter


Photo By Thais Ramos Varela


Creating a Feminist City: We Rise By Lifting Others

The other day, I came across an article written by the incredible Mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena Castrillo (elected in 2015) in which she wrote about Madrid’s commitment to “to promoting gender equality and fighting the continued discrimination which women face daily.” Then I did a little more research.

I was blown away.

In the article, Mayor Castrillo lists the plethora of innovative initiatives and programs that the Madrid City Council have underway to advance gender equity including “Spaces of Equality” which among other things work to legitimize women’s knowledge and provide them with a safe space to question gender roles defined by patriarchal society, and offering funded, extra curricular programming to “raise awareness and mobilize the population around issues of equality by disseminating the great contributions brought by feminism and implications around the concept of gender.” Not one to mince words, Castrillo goes on to say “Our society needs a breakthrough and profound transformation in this regard. The structural inequality between women and men takes many forms …[including] the alarming rise in macho attitudes among the younger generation. These forms of inequality require a determined and firm response from all of us.”

Let’s pause for a moment. Can you imagine the Mayor of your city even mentioning the word patriarchy at a Board of Trade luncheon or economic club? Or launching a new program to educate citizens about the contributions of its-heretofore mostly maligned feminist community? I can’t. I live in Toronto.

Introducing the Feminist City
There is a strong business case behind the idea that a Feminist City would produce incredible economic development opportunities – so why aren’t all city mayors rushing to become one?

And what if we could rank cities according to how desirable they were for women to live, work and play? What if this equated with sustainable economic growth for all?

If we could pinpoint and, hence, strengthen factors that would attract women and in particular, women entrepreneurs and investors, to move to a city, what might those factors be? Safety in all areas of a city, during day and night? A thriving diverse women-led entrepreneurship ecosystem. A feminist enterprise district? A thriving and well connected feminist community? A self-identified feminist Mayor?.

Sound attractive? We could call this The Feminist City.

Imagine the sign on the highway as you cross into city limits: Welcome to The Feminist City: We Rise by Lifting Others. Please Take Our Values Home.

Read more about the feminist city idea in the full VIEWPOINT essay here,


100% woman owned and queer feminist lead, The Gladstone Hotel is located in Toronto, Canada

New ideas must use old buildings.” – Jane Jacobs

Artist, activist, and entrepreneurial feminist Christina Zeidler runs the Gladstone Hotel, Canada’s first B-Corp hotel. Lana Pesch visits the Inn With Agency that operates under an anti-oppressive feminist framework. Zeidler and her team are challenging the status-quo…one magic pony at a time. Read the feature story here.

Rivera Sun, author of The Dandelion Insurrection and workshop facilitator at the 2018 Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum

Solutionary Ideas From a Love-Based Revolutionary

Rivera Sun, author of the Dandelion Insurrection Trilogy, says she has fantasized about running away to Canada. Sun grew up on an organic farm in Northern Maine, but now lives in New Mexico–even further away!

Though oh-so-close at one time, Sun has never had the opportunity to check out our native land first hand. Until now. Sun arrives in Toronto on December 2nd by invitation to facilitate a workshop at the Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum on how entrepreneurs and business leaders can leverage non-violent activism to drive systems change.

In this interview Sun says, “Change doesn’t just happen through protest. It doesn’t just happen – for regular people anyway – through calling politicians or senators. And it doesn’t usually just happen through buying the right goods as individuals. It happens when we organize. It happens when we look at the whole system, identify what’s holding us back, and starts when we begin working with others — and connecting our enterprises and organizations in ways that leverage each other’s strengths to drive the desired change.”

Check out more Rivera’s thoughts on enterprise-based activism on LiisBeth this month by clicking here.

It’s Campaign Season! If you think our advocacy for women and gender-non conforming entrepreneurs is worthy, or you find our content of value professionally, we hope you will consider contributing to our 2018 Patreon Fund Raising Campaign. Each online magazine refresh and newsletter takes a community to create and disseminate. We have 2000+ subscribers, but less than 30% contribute financially. We are open access and rely 100% on reader donations. Our impact is measurable. So if social justice and economic transformation are on your intentions and gratitude list this year, here’s your chance to donate to LiisBeth. 

Lana Pesch, LiisBeth Newsletter and Associate Editor, at the Made by Feminists GH Marketplace in the Gladstone Hotel Ballroom


Win the t-shirt that speaks for itself by being the first 2 people to TAKE OUR SURVEY TODAY  and drop us a note here when you’re finished. We’re on the home stretch but we still need a few more responses before we can publish results.

We sold a few of these at the FAC markets at the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto last month and the first feminist entrepreneurship t-shirt is available for $32 here. Use the LiisBeth reader discount code LIISBETH10 for a 10% discount!

LiisBeth is not in the t-shirt business, which is why we partnered with Jamie “Boots” Marshall so you can #buywomenled. Marshall owns and runs Boots Tees, an online shop for her t-shirts, art, and other fun stuff. Her hobbies include: reading, board games, and fighting the patriarchy.


The 2018 Entrepreneurial Feminist Forum in Toronto less than A WEEK away!

NEW ADDITION!  Lunchtime writing sessions led by Sarah Seleckyauthor and creator of Sarah Selecky Writing School.
Sarah believes good writing needs heart, consciousness, skill, and presence

What else? Three thought provoking foundational talks, three deep dive lab sessions, six 90 minute “think and do” workshops, two embodied movement classes, journaling and creative writing break rooms, a poster sessionreception and more!
Full speaker bios and session details here

Tix are still available!
$299 for ALL sessions // $99 for Students — For TWO WHOLE DAYS!  
Get your tickets here

ONE DAY PASSES ALSO AVAILABLE for December 2nd or 3rd

Read about our official transportation partner, child care support + local dog walking services below! 


Kids, Dogs, and Automobiles

Can’t get a sitter? Pooch need a pee? The 2018 EFFs has all your dog walking, childcare and local transport covered!

Jack Jackson of DoggyDatesToronto is available to provide dog walking services while you’re attending a session and ticket holders’ little ones can be left with Helm, Toronto’s leading babysitting app. Download the Helm app HERE.

Our official transportation partnerDriveHer is the new alternative & safe ride-sharing service dedicated to women by women. Uber for women but without all the deliquency. DriveHer’s priority is to help you arrive safely, comfortably and in style. Click HERE to download the ride sharing app.


Turning the Grey Tsunami into the Silver Economy

If you’ve got an hour to spare, the video above is 60 minutes worth of wisdom, advice, and inspiration from Helen Hirsh Spence and others about finding purpose post retirement.

She was a disruptor in the 60s and 70s and now she is disrupting in her 60s and 70s. The 69 year-old  started Top Sixty Over Sixty when she discovered seniors’ superpower: invisibility. Unless you’re wearing Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility, feeling unseen can erode a person’s confidence and be damaging. Spence wanted to create something that would undo that damage. Top Sixty Over Sixty is a platform to celebrate, educate and amplify the positive impact of older Canadians. “We should be maximizing and growing the potential of older people and seeing them as an asset as opposed a detriment,” says Spence. “It’s about a change of mindset.” And entrepreneurial opportunities for Boomers abound in areas like housing and transportation, health and well-being, education and learning, fashion and design.

The site houses articles like Best Before Dates are for Products Not People, dispelling commonly held myths about ageing, entrepreneurship and generational differences, like:

  • older people are less reliable in the workforce

  • you can’t train older people

  • older people are taking jobs away from young people

Spence developed the ReSet program which is a series of modules that focuses on reducing ageism, helping older adults redesign their future and also increase their entrepreneurial mindset to facilitate better multigenerational teams. “In a youth obsessed culture very often we’re looking at the frailty or older people, not their energy.” The program was supported by Ontario Centre of Workforce Innovation and Ryerson UniversityOut of 48 participants, 44 were women, and people like Vicki Jasperse (also in the video up top), jewelry artisan/entrepreneur, gained validation from the course to understand that she was on the right track.

Spence is in the process of evaluating next steps and is following her own consult: “Contrary to what you thinkthere’s nothing that stands in your way other than your own mindset.”

Good advice at any age.

Francesca Da Costa

Welcome Francesca Da Costa! 

LiisBeth’s new Advisory Board Member is Director Of Philanthropy at The MATCH International Women’s Fund. She is a fundraiser, diplomat, community advocate, entrepreneur, volunteer, foster parent, and foundation builder. Francesca believes we all have the power—and responsibility—to make our communities a better place for all. As a former intelligence and security officer for Global Affairs Canada, she has lived in and traveled to over a dozen countries. It is these experiences that have formed the foundation of her career and a desire to “do more” and we are thrilled to have her join the team.

We are still looking for two additional directors to join and diversify our board. If you, or someone you know is interested in advancing entrepreneurial feminismwe would love to hear from you! Drop us a email here outlining your interest.

From the UK’s The Poola 7 minute video from author and brand communications maven Mary Portas about five ways to improve your working life and your sense of yourself. The tips are taken from her new book Work Like a Woman and include being vulnerable in a confident way and supporting other women.

From left to right: MP Arif VeraniHeather GambleMinister Mary MgPK Mutch

Last month in Ottawa, we gifted Minister Ng with one of our signature t-shirts. She was pleased with message and promised to wear it the next time she announces more funding support for Women Entrepreneurs.  

Lana’s cat, Neil


We’re stunned with how many good queries come to LiisBeth and sometimes it’s hard to know what readers want. So we thought we’d do it the feminist way and ask you directly! 

Below are the top 3 story ideas we’ve received recently:

1. The Duality of Entrepreneurial “Struggle Porn” and Unseen Women’s Labor from a business owner in the gaming industry
2. Portrait of Swedish Feminist Party leader Gudrun Shyman
3. Women are the backbone of Africa’s labor force but lack of opportunities, gender-based violence and policies reduce their ability to advance. Why a conducive environment for African women to thrive makes sense.

VOTE HERE on the one you want to read most.

Photo by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash


Recipients of last month’s FEMINIST FREEBIES:

Tickets to the Move The Dial event went to:
Golnaz Golnaraghi, Toronto, ON

WE Connect conference pass was won by:
Golnaz Golnaraghi, Toronto, ON

3 signed copies of Gender Physics went to:
Alyson Nyiri, Wroxeter, ON
Heidi Phillips, Santa Barbara, CA
C. V. Harquail, Chicago, OH

YES! We still have three signed copies of Betty-Ann Heggie’s new bookGender Physics! The first three people to do the energy evaluation quiz (that under a minute to complete) and send their response (including their address) to: will receive the next three copies. FREE! Old school in the mail! (unless you’re at the EFFs)


Financialization not only refers to the incredible power of the financial sector over economics and politics, it also refers to the creep of financial ideas, metaphors, narratives and measurements throughout society and culture more broadly.  Examining a wide range of examples and case studies, this book argues that, at the same time as popular culture and everyday life are increasingly saturated by a financial idiom, the financial sector as a whole is more deeply invested than ever in everyday life and culture writ large. From the security culture of Walmart to children’s play with Pokémon trading cards, from the hype around the “creative economy” to the economics of austerity and precariousness, this book seeks to reveal financialization at work where we might least expect to find it. In an age when seemingly imaginary financial assets determine the fates of whole economies, this book suggests we take the idea of “fictitious capital” seriously as a way to understand the power of finance, and what might be done to stop it.

Where are we right now? With feminism and all that? There was the vote. We got the vote, which was lovely. Then there was work, and the pill, and sexual liberation, which was all great, and today there’s #MeToo, and Beyoncé, and something else – something like a sinking feeling: a realisation that these might have been a series of battles won, rather than the war promisedMeg Wolitzer’s 11th novel sympathetically satirises this complicated landscape of contemporary feminism, while also pressing knowingly against these bruises. ” – Eva Wiseman, The GuardianThe Female Persuasion (Penguin Random House) deals with female mentorship, power, ambition and how a single encounter can forever change a person. It’s a story about an intergenerational female friendship encompassing
ideas of influence, ego, and loyalty in Wolitzer’s signature wise and witty style.

Wolitzer’s social commentary can be as funny as it is queasily on target.” The Wall Street Journal


  • On Nov 5th, the Canadian government revealed a list of seven “alternative model” venture funds who will receive some piece of $50M in federal venture capital money which they in turn, can invest in companies. Great idea. The only problem is that only one of the funds is woman-led (Pique Ventures, Vancouver B.C.). All the other recipient venture firms are male dominated. And tech/STEM focused. Not very alternative in our books. We say to Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Minister Bains-good initiative overall. But uncreative, status quo perpetuating selection criteria. #patriarchy

  • Our book recommendation from last month won the Governor’s General’s Award for Fiction! Sarah Henstra’s The Red Word was among the seven English language books announced in November. Listen to Henstra on CBC radio here. (12 minute segment)

  • Do Women’s Networking Events Move the Needle on Equality? The short answer: yes. Author Shawn Achor wrote this article in the Harvard Business Review full of stats about the power of connection, and it’s not just about gender. (See you at the EFFs!)

  • Women’s Entrepreneurship Day is everyday, but especially this past week, on November 19th, following the WEDO Summit (Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization) at the UN in New York City. See who attended the summit here.

  • Nearly 9.1M firms in the US are owned by women and generate $1.4 trillion in sales. Celebrate #ChooseWOMEN on November 28th, by joining the greatest movement to empower women in business. Click here to join

  • In a recent survey, The Girl Guides of Canada found out what teens in Canada really think and how girls start to experience gender inequality at age 11. The good news is by having these tough conversations, girls can get the tools to grow their confidence and reach their full potential. Read the full report here.

That brings us to the end of our November newsletter. You’ll see a website refresh and newsletter mid-December, 2018, after we come up for air post-EFFs.

Did you read something of value in this newsletter?

LiisBeth is the only media voice in the world which supports the work of feminist entrepreneurs and innovators. We are 100% reader supported. If you love what we do, become a subscriber to LiisBeth! We humbly remind you that subscriptions are $3/month, $7/month or $10/month.

Remember! We are now also on Patreon!

Funds go directly towards paying writers, editors, proofreaders, photo permission fees, and illustrators. Building a more just future requires time, love—and financial support.

Save the daylight, winter is coming.


Minister Mary Ng Announces New $20M Women Entrepreneur Fund

Mary Ng, the Canadian minister of small business and export promotion,


On October 19th, Mary Ng, the Canadian minister of small business and export promotion, announced another new initiative, the Women Entrepreneurship Fund, a two-year $20-million commitment to invest directly in women-owned and women-led businesses across all sectors of the economy to help them grow and reach export markets. The funding is another part of Canada’s first Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.

This new opportunity to procure direct investment is welcome news to many women entrepreneurs!

This funding announcement comes just four weeks after the announcement of $85M in funding to strengthen and improve access to women’s entrepreneurship programming. Surprisingly, this announcement received zero mainstream media attention, other than its mention in a recent opinion piece by LiisBeth publisher, PK Mutch. A Google search yields no results other than the Ministry’s own press release.

Jason Easton, Chief of Staff for Mary Ng, was not surprised about the lack of coverage, noting that in his experience, mainstream press often overlooks announcements related to women’s economic advancement.  Easton added that the $85M fund would be spread over five years. Approximately $15M in total is earmarked for national organizations. The remaining $70M will prioritize regional, non-institutional applicants.

This is good news for community-based women-led co-working spaces, incubators, accelerators, networking organizations, and mentorship programs.

To learn more about how Minister Ng views the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, read the Q&A prepared for LiisBeth by the communications staff at the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada below.  It’s a good time to be a woman entrepreneur.



Q1.  What are some of the barriers that women entrepreneurs face?

Mary Ng: Women entrepreneurs face unique challenges compared to male entrepreneurs. They are less likely to seek financing and are more likely to be rejected or receive less money when they do. This has a huge impact on their ability to access capital.

As well, women entrepreneurs often have fewer mentorship and networking opportunities, face challenges in finding talent and expertise, and have difficulty securing large contracts and buyers. The impact of these barriers is clear: only 8.3% of women in Canada were self-employed in 2017 and only 16% of small businesses were women-led or -owned. We need to do better.


Q2.  What are you doing to help women succeed in business?

Ng: The Government of Canada is committed to addressing the barriers women face in starting or growing a business. That is why the Government is seeking to ensure the full and equal participation of women in the economy by increasing their access to financing, talent, networks and expertise through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) announced in Budget 2018.

The strategy has several key elements, including the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which aims to collect and gather data with the goal of providing information, data and best practices for women entrepreneurs. The WES Ecosystem Fund will provide funding for mentorship, networking and skills development through third-party initiatives. The Women Entrepreneurship Fund will directly invest in women-owned or -led businesses.


Q3.  What is the Government of Canada doing to help women entrepreneurs overcome access-to-financing barriers?

Ng: The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy will make significant investments to improve women’s access to capital, advice, best practices and targeted, gap-closing support. The Government increased the lending resources for the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to $1.4 billion. BDC’s Women in Technology Venture Fund was also increased to $200 million. As well, the Government provided Export Development Canada (EDC) with $250 million to help women-led businesses expand into international markets. The objective of all this is to support women-run businesses in starting up, scaling up and exporting.

Another program that will improve access-to-capital conditions for women entrepreneurs is the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative. Through two investment streams, it aims to improve gender balance among Canadian VC managers and technology-based companies.


Q4.  The Government has announced an investment of $105 million in women entrepreneurs. What are the goals of this investment?

Ng: The objective of this investment is to double the number of women-owned and women-led business by 2025 by increasing women’s access to capital, debt financing, networks and advice. This will be done through two initiatives.

One is the Women Entrepreneurship Fund. It will invest directly in women-led companies, enabling them to scale up and grow their businesses. The other is the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund. It will invest in third-party, not-for-profit organizations so they can identify new and innovative ways to support women entrepreneurs by closing gaps in areas such as mentorship, networking and skills development.

Q5.  What is the Women Entrepreneurship Fund?

Ng: The Women Entrepreneurship Fund is a two-year $20-million commitment to invest directly in women entrepreneurs in a diversity of industries, providing eligible companies with funding to help them grow. The fund will focus on supporting women entrepreneurs’ efforts to scale up and grow their businesses, as well as help them expand into new markets. .

Q6.  What types of organizations are eligible to apply for funding under the Women Entrepreneurship Fund?

Ng: Women-owned or women-led for-profit small and medium-sized businesses (fewer than 500 employees), including individual business owners, partnerships, social enterprises, corporations, co-operatives and Indigenous businesses, are eligible to apply for funding under this initiative.

Q7.  What will the Entrepreneurship Fund do for women entrepreneurs?

Ng: The Women Entrepreneurship Fund will provide successful applicants with up to $100,000 in funding (non-repayable contribution) to grow their existing businesses and help them mature to a state where they can pursue opportunities in new markets.

Activities that are eligible for funding include the development of market strategies and supply chain integration. The fund will also support women-owned and women-led firms in scale-up, expansion and growth activities such as product development, inventory management, upgrades to equipment and technology improvements.

Q8.  Why is increasing the participation and success of women entrepreneurs important to Canada’s economic future?

Ng: We know that the full and equal participation of women in the economy represents untapped potential. According to McKinsey, we could increase Canada’s GDP by $150 billion by 2026 simply by advancing women in high-productivity sectors and raising their participation in the labour force.

It is essential to Canada’s competiveness that we support women entrepreneurs—not just because it’s the right thing to do but also because it’s good for the bottom line.

Q9.  How is the Government addressing barriers faced by women entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds?

Ng: Studies have shown that women from diverse backgrounds face additional barriers. The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, a key pillar of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, aims to gather data on a variety of factors contributing to the current situation. Through the analysis of data, it will disseminate information, data and best practices for women entrepreneurs.

BDC is helping remove barriers for Indigenous women entrepreneurs. It is holding specific sessions of its WE Talk Business Boot Camps that are geared toward helping these women overcome barriers to entrepreneurship.

Q10.  How else is the Government of Canada supporting women?

Ng: The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy complements the Government’s broader efforts to advance gender equality, which include addressing pay equity, introducing more affordable childcare and putting an end to gender-based violence.

The Government is introducing a Gender Results Framework to guide future decision making and to measure its progress in fostering an economy that works for everyone. As well, it is moving forward with legislation to address pay equity in federally regulated sectors and is encouraging pay transparency by publishing its pay practices online.

In addition, the Government is helping women enter the trades with Apprenticeship Incentive Grants, implementing a National Housing Strategy that commits at least 25% of investments to projects that support women’s housing needs, and enhancing the Canada Child Benefit to help with the cost of raising children.