Newcomer Women Incubate their Business Ideas

“Nothing is too hard to start.”

These words shared by Bahar Akbari exemplify the optimism and motivation shared by the newcomer women participants of the Home-Based Business Incubator (HOBBI) program. The 10-week skills training program, funded by the Community Foundation of Greater Peterborough, aimed to provide aspiring newcomer women entrepreneurs with the tools, knowledge, skills, and confidence to launch their own home businesses.

The pilot program launched on May 4, 2021 and was led by NCC’s Skills Development Specialist, Sabrina Kuipers with oversight from Javier Bravo, Workplace Integration Coordinator, and wonderful program support from Fabiola Contreras Carrasco, a newcomer and NCC Board Member. HOBBI created a safe and supportive atmosphere over Zoom that was conducive to learning, networking, and growth. 

“This program has diverse information about businesses: you are giving us a whole panorama about Canadian culture in business, which is great for the group! It is a great opportunity for growing not only professionally but personally. To be in contact with entrepreneurial women and Sabrina make our day more enriching. To hear all the group’s opinions, ideas and laughs is very motivational for overtaking the challenges of business.” – Fabiola, HOBBI Program Support

HOBBI was designed and developed with newcomer women in mind. It was imperative to provide as many tools, resources, and connections as we could to enhance knowledge and learning opportunities. The women participated in 20 dynamic workshops over the course of 10 weeks on a vast array of topics including Assessing Your Skills & Strengths, Business Ideation, The Target Market, Value Proposition, Marketing & Communications, Product Pricing & Sales Models, Stress Management and Self-Care, Networking, and How to Pitch Your Business. Sessions were led by NCC staff and program support, and several knowledgeable guest speakers who were sources of great insight and expertise. We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Erin Ebenbauer from Watson & Lou, Susan Tung from Hanoi House, Hillary Manion and Michael Tamane from Peterborough & the Kawarthas Economic Development, Sofie Andreou from 123DigitalPower, and Camila Duarte from the Innovation Cluster

On July 8, 2021, 11 participants successfully completed the program. We are so proud of them and look forward to seeing their businesses develop and launch locally in the Peterborough and Northumberland regions.

About one year ago, I decided to make some products and sell them online. I spent a lot of money and bought fabric and other materials for it. Unfortunately, the selling part was very challenging for me. Finally, I gave up. The HOBBI program taught me the step by step process. I learned a lot. This program included very important information that I never thought of. I am very glad I attended this program. – Bahar, HOBBI Participant

A highlight from this program was the further support that our speakers offered to each woman personally. Every speaker we brought into the program generously offered to continue sharing their time and expertise, providing their contact information for more support and guidance. This was a real testament to the helping and welcoming nature of the Peterborough community.

“I thought I knew it all until I joined HOBBI. So much to learn. It’s impactful and a great place to share ideas and build capacity. Great program facilitator and guest speakers. I have learned so much and I now feel like I can conquer the business world. My business ideas are reinforced and I can’t wait for what the future holds.” – Grace, HOBBI Participant

Following the end of training, we organized a HOBBI Speaker Panel Event with local entrepreneurs, many of whom are newcomers themselves. The five panelists shared their own journeys, provided guidance and advice, and answered participant questions. Our panelists included Renato Zegarra from The Wellness Chef, Charmaine Magumbe from Zingha, Rosie Salcido from Facesby2, Inna Trotchine from A Taste of Russia, and Lesley Robb from SwellMade Co. It was a pleasure to welcome these entrepreneurs into our HOBBI group and to see new connections being formed.

Five local entrepreneurs shared their experiences of opening and managing business in Peterborough, offering advice and guidance to program participants during the Speak Panel

HOBBI opened my horizons. I learned a lot about how to effectively deal with stress, how to plan my day and keep up with everything, how to concentrate on the essentials and find like-minded people and business partners. It’s amazing how many interesting and successful people have gathered here to share their experiences of building their own businesses. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart!” – Olena, HOBBI Participant

HOBBI allowed a resilient, motivated, and determined group of newcomer women to come together, feel supported through the pandemic, and find the confidence and empowerment to come out the other side as entrepreneurs. As our classes progressed, inner strength was found as the women became more vocal with each other, more engaged with our presenters, and ultimately expanded their professional network. So, what did the women learn through the course of this program? In the words of HOBBI participant Grace, “I am more equipped than I realize”. 

“This program was so needed for me. I like it and it is teaching me so many things that I didn’t know before. I am hoping to use the knowledge to reach my dreams. I thank everyone who contributed to bringing this to the table, I needed this so much.” – Charlotte, HOBBI Participant

What’s Next for HOBBI?

We will continue meeting with participants once per month for further training, support, and fun check-ins. Participants also have the opportunity to access seed funds to support them in the launch of their businesses. They will qualify for the funds by demonstrating the knowledge they gained and sharing more about their business ideas, completing a customer persona and business model canvas, and providing a breakdown of their start-up costs. 

This program is made possible with a grant from the Fund for Gender Equality, a collaboration between: