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EBWN History – Part 3

The History Of The Elgin Business Women’s Network – Part 3

Researched by Susan Fortin-Smith & Gail McNaughton and compiled by Gail McNaughton.

((Part 3 also deals with the beginning of the EBWN as seen through documentation, flyers, meeting information, WRED Newsletters, History of WRED,  Shedden WRED Group activities, WRED Annual Reports, EBWN Committee Meetings. )

The early name for EBWN was Shedden WRED Group.

We have Meeting Minutes from:

August 13, 1997, October 8, 1997, January 14, 1998, February 17, 1998, March 14, 1998, January 17, 2007

From a flyer for Spring, 1999 the following Meetings/Events were scheduled to take place:

February 10 – Business Resource Centre, Shedden Library

March 20 – Business Showcase in Dutton

April 13 – Video On Women Entrepreneurs

May 13 – Personal Selling – presentation by Via Wilson & Greta Kennedy – included a dinner and silent auction

From a flyer for 2000, the following events were scheduled to take place:

January 25 – “Info & Tips On Completing Tax Returns” with speaker Bob Neilson, Cenaur Computerized Accounting, dinner meeting at The Beanery

March 6 – Review of new Economic Development tool Kit at the Corner Mug Shop in Dutton

March – Business Showcase in Dutton

April 25, 2000 a flyer announces a networking dinner at the New Serum Diner whereby there would be a panel discussion on tourism by tourism specialists “Tourism Opportunities For Your Business”.

June 7 – Tour of Moore Water Gardens in Port Stanley

July 18 – Summer Potluck Picnic in Pinafore Park

September 27 – Show & Tell

January 2007 is when Anne Kenny took over as Facilitator.  Other Committee members were: June-Anne Reid, Karen Huggett, Mary Pfeffer, Yvonne Ethier (these three were the Website Research Team), Mary Pfeffer was also the Treasurer, Susan Fortin-Smith handled Advertising & PR and Gail McNaughton was the Communications Pivot (Janice Norley and Claire Champ had done this role previously)

April 17, 2007 we celebrated our 10th Anniversary with a celebration dinner at The Salty Pickle.  Master of Ceremonies was Wendy Stevens from BX93.  Opening Remarks were given by Anne Kenny, Yvonne Brooks said grace, Helen LeFrank from the Elgin Business Resource Centre was the speaker.  Thank You to the guest speaker was made by Yvonne Ethier, Special Presentation was made by Mary Pfeffer.  Master of Ceremonies Thank You was made by Aniko Varpalotai & Cecilia Preyra.  Closing Remarks were made by Suzanne Ferguson.

The Weaving Of An Organization: WRED and The Rural Women’s Business Networks – 1998

A Thesis was presented to The Faculty of Graduate Studies of the University of Guelph by Samantha Albert, February, 1998

WRED Newsletters that mentioned our Shedden WRED Group which then became Elgin County Business Women’s Network:

Spring, 1996 – we are not listed

Spring, 1997 – we are not listed

Fall, 1997 – we are listed as Shedden WRED Network (November 12 Meeting with information on local stats and demographics at Gazebo House; December 10 – Christmas Potluck at the home of Janice Norley, discussion to follow on the Winter Agenda)

Winter, 1997 – still called Shedden WRED Network – listed under Network Contacts & Coming Events

Spring, 1998 – still called Shedden WRED Network (April 8 Meeting at Wayside, also a planning meeting for a display at the Rosy Rhubarb Festival at the home of Janice Norley)

Summer, 1998 – still called Shedden WRED Network

Spring, 1999 – we are not listed

Summer, 1999 – there is an article located under Network News – Elgin County Business Women’s Network:

“Recognizing that a number of women in Elgin County owned their own businesses and having a desire to connect with them, Janice Norley and Vicki Luke brought the Elgin County Business Women’s Network to life.

The Network has operated as in informal group, meeting in people’s homes and community spaces, often over potluck dinner.  This atmosphere is very conducive to providing mutual support and learning in a financially accessible manner.  As Janice points out, the format makes it feel like a “meeting of friends”.  The group has met on a monthly basis for the last 2 years.

This past May, Janice and Vicki decided to hold a more formal networking dinner with door prizes and all, in the same style as most of the other WRED Business Women’s Networks.

Attendance of 65 women demonstrated that women in Elgin County want to network!!  The evening was a great success with support from Vi and Greta, the original Durham Network Coordinators, as well as the creativity and hard work of Janice, Vicki and some of the other Network members.

Vicki and Janice enjoy helping others and the Network provides the setting to assist business owners in making new contacts as well as sharing information with others and learning from guest speakers.  The Network will continue to be a mixture of the larger networking events and the smaller more informal gatherings in order to meet the diverse needs of the businesswomen in Elgin County.”

Fall, 1999 – there is an article listed under Christmas Network Dinners:

“Elgin Business Women’s Network will be holding their Christmas dinner on Wednesday, November 24, 1999.  The networking will begin at 6 P.M. at the Seven Dwarf’s Restaurant, London, Ontario.  The Speaker, Sandy Ross, is the owner of Word’s Worth Communications, and founder of the Homepreneur Network in London.  She will be speaking on marketing for micro-businesses.  We will also be having Jennifer Penz attending who is with Welcome Wagon Business Promotions.  She will have a display to show us.  The cost of the dinner is $23.00 (gratuity and beverages extra).  Please call Janice at 519-764-2519 for details and to register.”

Summer, 2000 – listed under Upcoming Network Events & also under SW Ontario Networks  – September 27 – Show & Tell

Spring, 2001 – Not listed

Winter, 2001 – Not listed

1998 & 1999, 2000 WRED Annual Report – we are listed with our Network Coordinators – Janice Norley and Vicki Luke.  2000 WRED Annual Report only lists Janice Norley as the contact.

The History of WRED as well as the WRED Mission Statement are in the 1998, 1999 and 2000 Reports:

History of WRED:

“WRED was established as an outcome of a Provincial Economic Development Conference held in Guelph in April of 1993.  Using the conference as a strategic planning session, the conference organizers were able to determine what rural women in Ontario wanted and needed to become economically active and independent in Ontario’s economy.  A list of 70 strategies were presented, the top ideas including Self Employment Training, Business Women’s Networks, Membership & Access to capital.

From the conference WRED developed programs and services including:

Self employment training, rural women’s business networks, mentorship, life skills training, farm diversification training and loan funds.

Since 1993 WRED has successfully provided business development assistance to 525 women (1999 Annual Report) with estimated gross sales of over $10,000,000 (1999 Annual Report).  There are now over 450 new businesses (1999 Annual Report) operating in rural Ontario because of WRED initiatives.  More recent initiatives include the formation of Women’s Investment Clubs, an Economic Literary Program, an effective communications course (Smart Talk) and a Rural Business Alliance Project.

WRED operates a central co-ordinating office that provides support to four regional teams.  This structure allows for initiatives at the local level, while providing the regional teams with the advantages of a larger organizational framework.

Women and Rural Economic Development continues to provide enterprise development services and support in rural communities in Ontario through a decentralized, flexible and cost-efficient structure.”

Programs and Services include the following:

Self-Employment Training (SELF Start, Business Basics, Entrepreneurship Training for Rural Youth (Entry))

Creating Enterprise Opportunities through Partnerships (CEO)

Support to Existing Businesses (Director of Business Owners, Business Women’s Networks, Advance Business Workshops, Mentoring Partnerships, Technical Assistance, Member Services)

Economic Literacy Curriculum

Micro Lending

Smart Talk Communications Program

Business Alliances & Joint Ventures Initiative

Resource Centre

Investment Clubs

The Learning Centre – located in Stratford – joint venture between WRED, Time Training & Conestoga College

Mission Statement of WRED:

“WRED, a registered charity, is a community economic development organization dedicated to enhancing the sustainability of rural Ontario communities.  WRED provides programs that enhance business development, life skills, networking, access to capital, business diversification, including agriculture and awareness of rural community economic development.  WRED ensures women’s participation, builds local leadership capacity, offers rural perspective, and seeks to build partnership alliances.”

Women In Rural Economic Development

Aniko Varpalotai did research into the education and training of rural women who have begun their own businesses.  The aim was to analyze the effectiveness and impact of the Women In Rural Economic Development programs in WRED.  She did interviews and provided summaries.  She got a grant to conduct this study.  The results were shared with the WRED office.  The preliminary results were shared at the International, National and Provincial conference in February 2000 in Nanaimo, B.C. on “Issues Affecting Rural Communities”.


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