Evelyn Ackah saw an opportunity to expand her business. The Calgary-based founder and managing lawyer of Ackah Business Immigration Law needed capital to realize the opportunity, but she wasn’t interested in pursuing traditional financing.
Ackah already has an established immigration law practice and noticed more people having concerns about international and cross-border business, understanding Canada’s cannabis pardons and travel to the United States. She had a desire to share accurate information with a wider audience by establishing an online law firm. So, she approached Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) with her idea.
“They were very supportive,” she says. “They could see I had a viable business already, employing mainly women over the last nine years, and they liked my idea of using technology to make immigration law accessible to more people.”
Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enabling women to build successful businesses. The organization was established in 1995 and provides training, workshops, business advising, and mentorship opportunities. It also connects women with access to capital, including loans of up to $150,000 to women-run businesses in the province.
Marcela Mandeville, CEO at AWE, explains that women-run businesses can have unique needs. For example, if they are service-based, obtaining capital to scale up their business can be a challenge.
AWE practices relationship-based lending, working closely with people and businesses to help them achieve success. As a result, it’s worked with some entrepreneurs for its entire 20-year existence.
Getting financing from AWE can lead to other opportunities. For example, AWE recently hosted a delegation of women from Germany interested in investing in Alberta.
“We have a track record of making good investments and managing our loan portfolio very effectively,” says Mandeville. “When you look at that, the success rates of the businesses; the breadth of the industries, sectors and sizes; and what those businesses have contributed to the economy and the community, it’s clear that the businesses we work with will be a good investment.”
Ackah is currently working on launching her online business under its own brand. It will provide accurate legal information to a global audience interested in immigration and cross-border issues.
“They’ll have a chance to start their immigration journey the right way with the right information without spending thousands of dollars,” she says.