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Fund helps women start and scale food businesses


Toronto – Start-up food incubator Food Starter and Canadian food manufacturer Fiera Foods together have launched The Women in Food Rise Up Fund.

The three-year start-up growth fund, Rise Up, presented by Fiera Foods, will provide Food Starter’s women-led enterprises with access to a grant of $5,000 to quickly start and scale food businesses, Food Starter said in a news release.

Food Starter clients – meaning those who produce at the shared facility or attendi educational programs – are eligible to apply for a grant, said Mingki Choi, marketing and program director for Food Starter.

The fund aims to recognize that women entrepreneurs play a leading role in innovating Ontario’s food industry.

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“The concerning reality is that women are still underrepresented in food manufacturing,” said Boris Serebryany, president and chief executive officer of Fiera Foods Company. “We’re proud to work toward a solution by partnering with Food Starter to remove barriers, creating a more open and inclusive environment for female entrepreneurs and innovators in Ontario’s food industry.”

Grant recipients will receive a cheque for $3,500 within two weeks of announcement plus $1,500 in Food Starter production hours or accelerator fee credits. The grant will be used for purchasing new equipment, supplies or ingredients required to fill orders, production labour and marketing expenses.

“We strongly believe in working to create more equitable playing field for women and in particular women newcomer entrepreneurs. It benefits us all creating jobs, advancing equity, and building resilient communities” said Petra Kassun-Mutch, executive director, Food Starter.

To qualify, ventures must be 51 per cent women-owned and women-led, revenue-positive, an active hourly or accelerator 2018 Food Starter client and a registered for profit, social enterprise. Preference will be given to newcomer and women-led ventures. A review team consisting of Food Starter and Fiera Foods representatives will review applications.

Applications for the Rise Fund are now available online and due on Aug. 13, 2018.

Food Starter is a not-for-profit corporation and food business commercialization centre funded in part by the City of Toronto and Growing Forward 2. The organization operates a 20,000-square-foot shared-use food safe production space in Toronto complete with manufacturing equipment including commercial bakery production spaces, hot and cold fill lines, and a full suite of packaging equipment. Food Starter offers new food businesses expert training and mentorship as they prepare to commercialize their product and launch their business.