The fifth annual Ignite. Empower. Innovategala celebrating International Women’s Day (IWD) in Guelph and Wellington County takes place March 8 at the Hanlon Convention Centre.

The event features a keynote address by Dr. Samantha Nutt, the founder of War Child Canada and War Child USA. In her talk “Women Leading Women”, Dr. Nutt will be speaking to the challenges that women continue to face in the 21st century and how all people can work together to advocate for change.

This year Innovation Guelph is aiming to get more young people involved in the festivities, with a contest encouraging local youth to submit an inspiring creative work showcasing the importance of IWD.

The event will also include a vendor marketplace featuring local women entrepreneurs, several of whom are involved in Innovation Guelph’s Rhyze Project, which provides learning, mentorship and networking opportunities to help women build financial capital, business skills, a peer network and confidence.

The Rhyze Project is one way Innovation Guelph is supporting women entrepreneurs with a goal of increasing the number of women-owned businesses in Guelph and Wellington County to 30% by 2025.

In celebration of IWD, here’s a look at some of the amazing, innovative and entrepreneurial women who inspire us in Guelph and Wellington County:

Martha van Berkel is co-founder of Schema App, a tech startup in our Speedway Supercharger program. She is also a Rhyze Academy mentor.

  • Martha van Berkel is co-creator of Schema App, a software platform that helps digital marketing agencies and businesses ensure search engines understand and optimally display online content.
  • Valerie Blackmore is president of Wyndham Forensic Group, which provides forensic DNA services & solutions for clients in Canada and internationally.
  • Artisan Jessica Steinhäuser is a designer and builder of kachelöfen (masonry heaters) for clients worldwide. Her kachelöfenare works of art as well as marvels of engineering.
  • Christy Pettit is CEO of organizational development (OD) consulting groupODScore and new venture, GlobalOD, a technology platform that makes ODScore’s “best-in-class” methods and tools for mentoring, hiring and goal attainment available 24/7. Read more.
  • Caroline Bolduc, President and CEO of Bold Canine and Bold Raw, was searching for a better dog food when she decided to create a line of natural, raw food for dogs and cats, which is now available at retailers across Canada, from B.C. to Newfoundland. Read Caroline’s story.
  • Carmen Clubine founded Alfaro Clubiné in 2015, designing intricate silver filigree jewelry that is changing the lives of the artisans who produce it in Paraguay. Read about her entrepreneur’s journey.
  • Melku Gebrekristos launched Laza Food and Beverages Inc. to bring authentic Eritrean/Ethiopian cuisine to Guelph and beyond. She sells prepared foods like her uniquely delicious hibiscus tea in her retail store and at the Guelph Farmer’s Market, and also offers catering and cooking classes.
  • Natalina Bombino Campagnolo, founder of Guelph-based cooking school La Cucina di Natalina, offers hands-on classes and food and wine tours for home cooks and foodies.
  • Flow Office Wisdom is a certified BCorp social enterprise, launched by April Burrows and Crystal Wilson, to provide businesses with a full range of back office support.
  • ATTIC is a jewelry brand founded by designers Susan Shaw and Melissa Gobeil, who create hand-crafted solid gold adornments, including custom wedding and bridal jewelry.
  • Since Jakki Prince launched Sweet Temptations Cupcakery three years ago, she has served up hundreds of thousands of cupcakes, launched a food truck called Sprinkle and is now BCorp certified.
  • Whitney Douglas and Amanda Woodhouse started ReFresh Juice Co. to offer cold pressed, nutrient-packed juices made from 100% organic fruits and vegetables via a retail store on Quebec Street in Guelph and by delivery.
  • Co-founder and CFO Caroline Pilon launched family-run Green Table Foods in 2005, making nutritious, fermented foods with certified organic, farm-direct ingredients, one small batch at a time.

Learn more and purchase tickets for Ignite. Empower. Innovate.