When Leamington resident Edith Moody was asked if she wanted to take part in a pilot program geared to help Mexican female entrepreneurs kick start their businesses, she knew she had to seize the opportunity.
For the past 17 years, Moody has been working as a freelance translator in Mexico and Canada. But since arriving to Ontario in 2016, she's wanted to turn that service into a formal business.
"It's a new beginning," said Moody, whose business is called Seamless Spanish Linguistic Solutions or Te Traduzo.
"I thought it was time to expand. I thought that I had potential in the area, but I didn't know where to start ... I had been procrastinating that step."
In October 2021, Moody was selected to take part in a three month pilot project — alongside two other women — that would provide free education on how to be an entrepreneur and operate a business.
The project was launched by the Mexican Consul in Leamington Vanessa Calva and offered online in collaboration with the Thunderbird School of Global Management at the University of Arizona and the Consulate of Mexico in Phoenix.
This week, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Centre (SBEC) — a division of Invest Windsor-Essex — partnered with the Mexican Consulate in Leamington to expand the program and add more resources and workshops.
"When [women] are supported like that we're unstoppable and we feel really empowered and we start becoming more independent." - Edith Moody
SBEC programming is funded by the provincial and federal governments.
"Many of the women that I've had the opportunity to meet have very interesting stories of why they're currently now making Windsor-Essex their home and I saw that many of them had educational and professional careers in Mexico prior to travelling here that were very impressive and that they were still wanting to do more, but they weren't very sure how to start," Calva said.
Having someone sit down with the women, offer them training and walk them through their business plans helps to empower the women and gives them a sense of independence, Calva added.
When it comes to the Mexican community in Windsor-Essex, Calva said people often think about the temporary foreign agriculture workers that are in the region. Though important, Calva said she wanted to bring other people from the community to the forefront.
The SBEC's Women Entrepreneurship Strategy program director Lee McGrath said she's always looking for different ways to engage female entrepreneurs.
"We saw the opportunity to create a unique partnership that would help us better serve the Spanish speaking population in our region," she said
"Because we're really committed to the women in our community and so is the Consulate, I think there's going to be a real opportunity for this project to expand and growth within Canada."
This particular program will also be offered in English and Spanish, something that McGrath said will fill a gap that currently exists for people in this demographic looking for opportunities.
She said they're hoping to start the full program later this year.
Looking back on the pilot, Moody said it gave her the basic business fundamentals she was missing, including how to advertise herself, develop a business plan and manager her finances.
But not only that, she said it encouraged her to finally make her business a reality.
"When [women] are supported like that we're unstoppable and we feel really empowered and we start becoming more independent," she said.
Moody is still finishing her business plan and growing her customer base, but hopes to be of help to temporary foreign agriculture workers that come into the region and need translation support for legal or medical appointments. She also hopes to work with Canadian owners or employers who need to communicate with their workers.