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Cisco Canada introduces the Women Entrepreneurs’ Circle

Wightman with Canadian MP Bardish Chagger and Cisco Americas leader Alison Gleason at the opening of the Toronto Innovation Centre

TORONTO – On the heels of the grand opening of the Cisco Canada Innovation Centre, the Canadian subsidiary has followed that up with the launch of a Women Entrepreneurs’ Circle program.

This program will provide women entrepreneurs with access to technology knowledge and resources such as the Toronto Innovation Centre.

Alison Gleason, Cisco’s senior vice president of the Americas, told CDN that there will be many types of ecosystems and small-business partners that will have the opportunity to connect with Cisco at the Innovation Centre. This facility, she added, will provide local businesses with exposure to markets they would not have a chance to access.

The goal of the Cisco Women Entrepreneurs’ Circle is to help bridge the gap for ecosystem partners including Women of Influence, Completely Managed, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Communitech as well as to further the digital strategy of Canada.

Currently only 15 per cent of all Canadian small and medium sized businesses are run by women.

Bardish Chagger, the Canadian Minister of Small Business and Tourism and MP for Waterloo, who was on hand for the opening of the Innovation Centre said Cisco Canada’s Women Entrepreneurs’ Circle is a sign that the company wants to build small businesses and help them grow with Cisco.

Cisco Canada’s Women’s Entrepreneur Circle will consist of three pillars. They are:

  1. Circle of Learning: Enhancing Digital knowledge through the Cisco Canada Women Entrepreneur Academy. Women will be able to access seven online virtual training courses, totalling more than 90 hours of training from the Cisco Networking Academy offered at no cost to eligible registrants.
  2. Circle of Productivity: A fully managed service called The Entrepreneur Xperience that features a data center in a box with phones, routers, and switches.
  3. Circle of Innovation: In collaboration with Communitech and the BDC the program will provide internship students from the University of Waterloo to entrepreneurs. These interns will work from the new Cisco Innovation Centre in Toronto and will be given access to Cisco’s DevNet crowd-sourced developer community.

Cisco Canada president Bernadette Wightman said women led businesses are good for Canada.

Research has shown the Cisco Canada leader that not only do these businesses boost Canada’s GDP, but they also increase national well-being and competitiveness; improve women’s employability, empowerment and gender equality.