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Ecosystem Effectiveness: Collaboration

Ecosystem Effectiveness: Collaboration

When an issue gains traction in the public eye, it can propel lots of people to take action. And, sometimes, all those separate initiatives can benefit from being more coordinated. Gender equality initiatives are a great example of this.

The Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC) believes that collaboration enables us to provide stronger support for women entrepreneurs and their business growth.

Our clients deserve united organizations

While the market-based approach is to compete, the key players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem need to work together. There is a more progressive way: namely, collaboration.

Collaboration in practice: WEB Alliance of Women’s Business Networks (BC)

One example of the benefits of collaboration is the WEB Alliance. In 2009, BC-based Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) noticed that women’s business networks were cropping up around the province. At the time, there were 34 such networks in the BC and, while they all had similar missions and memberships, many weren’t aware of all the other players in the space and how they could potentially work together.

Laurel Douglas (CEO of WEC) and Jill Earthy (then-CEO of Forum for Women Entrepreneurs) felt that each organization could benefit from sharing best practices, hosting joint events and promoting each other. They united women’s business networks around the province in a consortium called the WEB Alliance of Women’s Business Networks, which now has over 35 member networks that represent over 27,000 women in business, the professions, tech and the trades in BC.

Our clients deserve united organizations

There are many benefits to collaboration – both for ourselves and for our clients – because united organizations:

  • Complement each other’s offerings to fill gaps in service delivery and ensure members and/or clients are well supported.
  • Connect with new segments of the market that they might not reach otherwise.
  • Facilitate faster referrals.
  • Spend less time building their foundation and more time innovating.
  • Leverage the memberships, partnerships and credibility they already have.
  • Create a bigger impact for their common goal.
  • Limit confusion for members/clients and allow them to connect with the right organization.
  • Create joint initiatives.

Examples of WEB Alliance joint projects

No individual organization could have created this kind of impact on its own.

1. BC Economic Forum/WE FOR SHE Movement

The WEB Alliance co-organized the first 2014 BC Economic Forum in partnership with the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. The event brought over 400 leaders together to discuss how to grow women leaders—in business, on boards and in growing industries. Since then, it has grown into WE FOR SHE, a provincial movement and annual forum that unites over 1,400 business leaders and high school students in grades 10-12 to advance gender equality. The WE FOR SHE movement is a collaborative project that has gained traction at an exponential pace due to the collaboration of nearly 20 organizations each year, including WEC as an Organizing Partner.

Picture of WE FOR SHE 2017 Forum

The 2017 WE FOR SHE Forum

2. Women’s Business Roundtable with the Premier

The WEB Alliance hosted a roundtable with the Premier and representatives from 12 women’s business networks that support professional and entrepreneurial women in a variety of industries throughout BC. Recommendations from the historic roundtable influenced the creation of the Premier’s Women’s Economic Council, an Advisory Board that represented the interests of women in business in BC. No individual organization could have created this kind of impact on its own.

3. Embracing Award Opportunities Events

In order to raise the profile of women in business, WEB Alliance member organizations decided to encourage women to apply for awards and use them as a way to promote their business. Members collaborated on “Embracing Award Opportunities,” an event held for several years that brought together award-winning women, nominees and judges to discuss what it takes to write a winning submission and how to leverage the opportunity.

It takes a community to build a business, and our clients all benefit from the entrepreneurial ecosystem working as closely together as possible. Our complementary interests can be our greatest strength!

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