As the saying goes ‘many hands make light work’ and this concept can definitely be applied to entrepreneurial financing in Saskatchewan.
On the evening of April 10, the organization Seeds for Dreams heard pitches from three fortunate Saskatoon-based businesses. Seeds for Dreams is a local source of early stage financing for smaller female-led companies. Four times a year each Seeds for Dreams member provides $100 to the business with the best pitch and, with more than 100 members, the final cheque is significant. The funds are awarded without transfer of equity or debt obligations.
The businesses that pitched at the one year anniversary event were Jami Young Coaching & Consulting, Meraki + Light photography and Wruck Riding Centre. Each individual, or pair, presented for four minutes and answered challenging questions from the audience for six minutes. The atmosphere was positive and supportive all-round.
After a secret ballot vote by Seeds for Dreams members, Jessica Wruck and her Wruck Riding Centre received a cheque for $10,300. In her pitch, she emphasized the benefits of children and teens interacting with horses. Wruck plans to spend the funding on a strategic plan, infrastructure and an additional horseback riding facility for her Western riding school located outside of Saskatoon.
Alisha Esmail is the owner and CEO of Road Coffee Company and was the third Seeds for Dreams recipient. Months later, she is still thrilled about the impact that the Seeds for Dreams funding had on her coffee business and its growth.
“It came at a really key time for my business. I was able to buy a coffee roaster and hire my first full-time employee,” says Esmail. With a background in international development, Esmail’s business focuses on bridging the gap between coffee bean farmers in other countries and local consumers – producing some delicious coffee in the process.
Chris Ransom is Operations Manager at Ranco Millwork + Commercial Cabinetry and a Seeds for Dreams member. Ransom says: “There is nothing quite like this. It’s so great to learn about female-led businesses and to be a small part of their entrepreneurial dreams.”
Meraki + Light photography co-owners Tamarah Hodgson and Tammy Zdunich pitched the crowd on The Well Collaborative–a gathering place, workshop and event space for Saskatoon women in the Broadway district. Although the pair did not receive the night’s final funding, Zdunich says: “We feel like we have already won and we’re grateful for the amazing publicity this Seeds for Dreams pitching opportunity provided for our business.”
In order to pitch entrepreneurs must meet the following criteria: the company is headquartered in Saskatchewan, the company has been in operation for one year (it can still be pre-revenue if demonstrated close-to-market) and the company has at least one female team leader or owner.
The next Seeds for Dreams pitch event will take place on Tuesday June 19 at LB Distillers in Saskatoon. Seeds for Dreams is still accepting new members (male and female) willing to commit $100 for four recipients each year.
Find out more at the website seedsfordreams.ca or email firstname.lastname@example.org.