Venessa is the founder and C.E.O. of Amblecare Health Services Corp, a homecare agency that is dedicated to providing life-enriching home care services that assist the elderly and those individuals who are medically challenged throughout the community. Amblecare aims to preserve an independent and dignified lifestyle for clients while they remain in the comfort of their own homes. Before starting a homecare agency, Venessa spent four years as a Human Resources assistant and also earned an undergraduate degree in Health Management (Hons.) from York University. Venessa lives and works in the Greater Toronto Area. During her free time she enjoys sewing, giving back to her community, and going on recreational outings across the city.
Q1 Do you believe that it is important to have more women involved in the IP system?
Most definitely! As businesswomen we are equal contributors to economic growth, and it is critical that we understand the importance of protecting our ideas, brands, and status in the world of business.
Q2 Have you noticed a gender gap in your industry? Is the situation changing?
In terms of IP systems there is definitely a gender-gap. It is clear that the technology and innovation sector is highly male dominated. However, I believe as we are seeing more women stepping into entrepreneurial roles there will be a change. According to an article from Forbes, report shows that even though women are less likely to start tech companies, they are just as innovative when creating products and services that are as technologically advanced as their male counter parts.
Q3 Do you think it is more difficult for female innovators and entrepreneurs to secure funding (and, therefore, be able to afford IP costs)?
Yes, it can be quite difficult. From my own experience as a female entrepreneur in the service sector, I have had my share of challenges. I had to first overcome my fear of starting a business and secondly, I was uncertain about how I would protect my company, my brand, and my hard work. Thirdly, it can be very difficult to communicate the value of what you are offering when the majority of funding opportunities are allocated to innovation in the technology sector, which is male dominated versus the service sector. I encourage other female entrepreneurs to find creative ways to protect their ideas/brands until they can afford to do so in the proper way.
Q4 Are there unique challenges that female inventors and entrepreneurs face?
Yes, in my personal experience as a female entrepreneur, one of my biggest challenges was the fear of failure. I have always felt like friends, family, and colleagues have expected so much of me. I was held in high regard and this added pressure to ensure success. My fear of failure escalated to the point where I didn’t want to start my business because of worry that I could not meet the necessary expectations of others. In addition to my fear of failure, I have found that there is a lack of quality resources within the community to educate, support and encourage female entrepreneurs in their business endeavours. I also had challenges finding a suitable mentor because again there was the fear of not being respected in the field, the worry of being exploited by a more experienced individual and the concern that a male mentor could possibly sexually harass me.
As a female entrepreneur, we are sometimes asked to choose between our careers and family and if we decide to not have a family and focus on our career we suffer judgement by others. In addition to dealing with society expectations and judgements, we sometimes struggle to get a “seat at the table” or have opportunities readily accessible to us due to gender and societal bias. Some individuals may assume that we are not equipped to the do our job based simply on gender, and this can subsequently lead to methods that undermine our efforts and increase challenges. I encourage my fellow female entrepreneurs to have faith, trust the process, and to step out boldly into the light. Never give up on your dreams.
Q5 How can the innovation and IP ecosystems become more inclusive for under-represented groups, such as female entrepreneurs?
Wow! This is a very good question. I believe the first step would be to talk openly with those that are affected and to get the policy makers, government and the wider society involved in the conversation. Secondly it is important to ensure we understand the challenges that underrepresented groups such as female entrepreneurs face. With the proper data gathered we could then create measurable actions that are intentional about reaching out and creating change. I believe in order for change to be sustainable there needs to be a system of accountability, as such, there would need to be continuity in the measures put in place to ensure that inclusivity is being maintained.
Q6 What types of assistance will benefit female entrepreneurs?
As female entrepreneurs, I believe these are would be very beneficial.
1) More access to funding, grants, resources and support for female ventures.
2) Workshops/Seminars geared towards navigating entrepreneurship as a female.
3) More nationwide policies to protect the interests of women who want to go into business.