Calgary (Rural Roots Canada) – A new grant created by the credit unions in Alberta aims to empower women in agriculture by helping them start or grow their businesses.

Alberta Central on behalf of the 13 credit unions and their nearly 200 branches across the province has launched the Women in Ag grant.

Matea Maric is Director of Government Relations and Innovation at Alberta Central.

She says the Women in Ag grant is all about creating opportunity for women who are either currently working in or planning to work in the ag industry.

“It encourages them to apply for funding to put towards their ag business’ financial future.” Maric said.

Maric says it all started with a conversation with the team at connectFirst Credit Union a couple of years ago.

“They were exploring gaps in the marketplace and what new financial products and services they could be tailoring to underserved markets, particularly in the ag space.”

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Maric hopes this grant will help women overcome the barriers they face in getting their businesses up and running, pointing to research they conducted that found there was a real need and opportunity to support women in the ag space.

“We found that nationwide, women represent approximately 20 per cent of individuals working in agriculture, but that many of them, unfortunately, face challenges and barriers to participation for reasons that include insufficient access to capital and financing.”

The idea of the grant is now being realized a year and a half later with the opening of the first round of applications, which has been met with a warm welcome.

“We’ve received a few applications so far, and we’re seeing some action on social media, folks sharing our posts and whatnot, and just really great feedback from our credit unions.”

She adds this initiative is a perfect fit as credit unions in general are very involved in growing ag businesses.

“Many offer specific products and services tailored for farmers and small business owners that work in ag. So we really see the value of the industry to the communities that we operate in and to the province as a whole.”

Maric says there’s been no shortage of support from the credit union teams around province as it has rolled out.

“There’s just lots of excitement.”

The deadline to apply for the grant is Wednesday, July 5.

For more information and to apply click here.

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