The Strategic Forum on entrepreneurial diversity, jointly developed by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal and Femmessor, was held last week in hybrid mode at the Palais des congrès de Montréal.
Over 450 participants and 26 panelists gathered virtually to discuss the challenges, levers, and best practices to increase the representation of women and people from diverse backgrounds in the entrepreneurial fabric of Quebec and Montréal.
BLOCK 1 – Entrepreneurial diversity: state of play
"An inclusive economy goes without saying. Employment is the best way to ensure everyone is integrated."
– Jean Boulet, Minister of Labour, Employment, and Social Solidarity
"The conversation we had today is important because it brings together all actors to build a truly inclusive relaunch." – Cathy Wong, responsable de la diversité, de l'inclusion en emploi, de la langue française et de la lutte au racisme et à la discrimination, membre du comité exécutif, Ville de Montréal
"More women pivoted their businesses in the face of the crisis. This shows the strength of entrepreneurship among women despite the crisis and associated challenges."– Sévrine Labelle, President and CEO, Femmessor
Entrepreneurship and COVID-19: inclusiveness, a source of resilience
"The main challenges relate to reinventing management and innovation processes. How to innovate and where to innovate. Increasingly, the shift is toward more collaborative approaches."
– Tania Saba, Ph.D., CRHA, BMO Chair in Diversity and Governance and Professor – School of Industrial Relations, Université de Montréal
BLOCK 2 – The drivers of a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem
Panel – A financing ecosystem at the service of entrepreneurial diversity
"We listened to them, we heard them, we are ready to help them. We are going to build a complete financing ecosystem for local entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds."
– Wils Theagene, Senior Director, Québec, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec
Coaching and mentoring, key levers of entrepreneurial success
"Innovation is a state of mind, a way of being. Innovating allows young people to be more inclusive, to develop problem-solving values."
Marie-Josée Lamothe, President, Tandem International Inc. and Professor of Practice and Director of McGill's Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship, McGill University
Business markets and networks at the service of entrepreneurial diversity
"The face of entrepreneurship is changing in Quebec."
– Déborah Cherenfant, Regional Director, Women Entrepreneurs, Quebec Region, TD Bank Group and President and spokesperson, Jeune Chambre de commerce de Montréal
BLOCK 3 – Society, economy and environment: entrepreneurial diversity to meet tomorrow's challenges
Spotlight on entrepreneurial success stories
"There are underrepresented groups – youth with disabilities, immigrants, Indigenous people. We need to build strong teams. It's not charity; it's growing our operations. I encourage businesses to make a difference."
– Gabriel Bran Lopez, M.S.M, Founding President, Youth Fusion, Co-Founder, FIRST Robotics Quebec and former President, Jeune Chambre de commerce de Montréal
Entrepreneurial diversity and society: opportunities and advantages of an inclusive economic recovery
"Now that we have realized our economic humanity, what do we want to build? A greener, more inclusive economy."
– Geneviève Morin, President and CEO, Fondaction
"What entrepreneurs are asking for is not charity; it's to be able to collaborate and invest together. It's to knock on doors, to access patient capital. People who believe in diversity and who know that it will contribute to the relaunch."
– Vickie Joseph, Co-Founder, Groupe 3737 and Femmepreneur and Co-Founder and President, V Kosmetik
"The time to act is now. For the coming year, the commitment I am making for the Chamber is that we keep working with every sector to ensure that we are active in addressing entrepreneurial diversity and diversity within businesses. We might end up saying that the year of the pandemic was the year we launched projects that worked."
– Michel Leblanc, President and CEO, Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal
The Forum on inclusive entrepreneurship has set the table for the upcoming release of a study on the representation of women and people from diverse backgrounds in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, conducted jointly by the Chamber and Femmessor.
About the Strategic Forum on entrepreneurial diversity
The Strategic Forum on entrepreneurial diversity was jointly developed by the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal and Femmessor, in cooperation with the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Desjardins, Export Development Canada (EDC), the Government of Quebec, Fondaction, Hydro-Québec, Investissement Québec, La Presse, Montreal Gazette, the Palais des congrès de Montréal, the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub and Ubisoft.