Did you hear the news? Innovation Guelph raised $30,000 for The Ignite Award, a project of the Women’s Economic Advancement Project through crowdfunding. If you follow our social media feeds, visited our space or chatted with one of our staff members at any point in the past six weeks, you couldn’t help but be caught up in the swell of momentum and enthusiasm for this initiative.

We’re thrilled to be the first Guelph-based organization to achieve full funding for a project through crowdfunding. But what really has us excited is the number of women who will benefit from this program. All of the funds raised will be used to create a seed fund to provide cash awards and business mentoring to prospective and existing women entrepreneurs in Guelph and Wellington County.

“We are so grateful to the individuals, organizations, and our partners who contributed to The Ignite Award crowdfunding campaign and helped us reach our goal,” said Kristel Manes, director, Innovation Guelph and the Women’s Economic Advancement Project. “By investing in The Ignite Award program, you’ve invested in local women, and you’ve invested in our community’s well-being and prosperity.”

The Ignite Award campaign was launched at Innovation Guelph’s International Women’s Day event on March 10, and ended at midnight on April 23. Ninety-one individuals and organizations contributed to the campaign, which was quick to gain momentum, raising more than $10,000 in its first week.

We particularly want to recognize the local businesses and organizations who showed their support for women’s entrepreneurship with substantial contributions, including Meridian Credit Union; Scotiabank (St. George’s Square); Linamar; Guelph Women in Networking; and both the Community Engaged Scholarship Institute at the College of Social and Applied Human Science and the College of Business + Economics and CBaSE at the University of Guelph.

The Ignite Award is well-aligned with the values of our business school,” said Julia Christensen-Hughes, Dean of the College of Business + Economics and CBaSE at the University of Guelph. “Entrepreneurship is an essential component of any economically sustainable community, and women’s participation is particularly beneficial for fostering self-determination and wellness within individuals and families. I’m delighted to sponsor this important initiative.”

Apply for The Ignite Award

The application period for The Ignite Award is open until May 30, 2015, and prospective and existing women entrepreneurs in Guelph and Wellington County are encouraged to apply. Check out The Ignite Award page on our site for complete information on the program – including an online application, eligibility requirements and details on the review process.

“The goal of The Ignite Award program is to create an opportunity that’s currently missing in our region,” says Tanya Darisi, social entrepreneur and founder of The O’Halloran Group, WEA Project partner. “This award will not only provide the critical funding that women entrepreneurs need to finance their businesses, but also the mentoring and business coaching they need to grow them long term.”

The most exciting part of this program is that everyone who submits an application for The Ignite Award and meets the eligibility requirements will be invited to participate in mentoring opportunities, which may include peer mentoring circles, one-on-one mentoring, professional advice and business model coaching.

We’re committed to building a community of like-minded women who want transform our region into a hub for women’s entrepreneurship in the province.