ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs:

Turn your vision into a thriving business!

About ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs

ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs is an initiative by YES Employment + Entrepreneurship that aims to empower women in Quebec’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Our program offers a range of actionable support, tools, and resources to help women successfully launch and grow their businesses.

We believe that women bring unique perspectives, skills, and ideas to the table, and by supporting their entrepreneurial endeavors, we can contribute to building a more diverse and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Quebec.

What the program offers

Our program is designed to provide networking opportunities, speaker events, coaching, mentorships, workshops, and an annual Pre-Accelerator program. With these resources, we aim to broaden opportunities for women and support them in overcoming the challenges they may face as entrepreneurs.


1. How do I know if ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs is for me?

If you’re a woman living in Quebec, and you’re curious about becoming or developing as an entrepreneur (in any industry), you can learn new skills and find new opportunities with ELLEvate.

Discover how we can support you through our ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs program by watching this video!

2. How can I get involved?

Sign up for an event, find a business coach or enrol in our eLearning business courses. Whatever stage you are at in your business, you can find opportunities to network and upskill with ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs.

3. Do I have to be under 40 to participate in ELLEvate events?

No, ELLEvate is open to any woman over the age of 18. Diversity in background, thought, and lived experience is a strength. We encourage people of diverse backgrounds to participate in events and apply for the Pre-Accelerator (such as members of racialized or newcomer communities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, or those with disabilities or special needs, among others).

4. What is the ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs Pre-Accelerator?

The ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs Pre-Accelerator is a 3-month program designed to help women-led startups in Quebec take their businesses to the next level through intensive support and training. During the Pre-Accelerator program, 10 women-led startups who are selected will receive mentorship, coaching, and workshops designed to help them refine their business ideas, develop growth strategies, and prepare for the pitch competition that takes place at the end of the program. The pitch competition offers cash awards to the most promising women-led startups in Quebec, providing an opportunity for participants to secure funding and take their businesses to the next level.

If you are a woman with a feasible idea or product, and you believe you have what it takes to grow your business, we encourage you to apply and take advantage of the resources and support we offer to help you succeed. Applications for this year’s ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs Pre-Accelerator are now closed.

5. Am I eligible to apply and participate in the pre-accelerator?

Before applying to our program, please carefully review and comply with the eligibility criteria listed below:

– Be a dedicated founder or co-founder who identifies as a woman (said founder must also be the main participant for the program).
– Startup must be at least 50% women-led.
– Have a feasible, creative and innovative process, product or solution.
– Demonstrate the potential for start-up scaling or growth.
Be willing to contribute $100 towards a $1,000 Cohort Award is required. The recipient of the award will be chosen by the cohort.
– Be driven, coachable, and collaborative.
– Be a Quebec resident.
– Be able to participate in English.
– Be over the age of 18.
– Be able to commit to the 3-month online program.

6. How can I connect with other women entrepreneurs and role models?

Through ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs, you can connect with networks of entrepreneurs and find potential partners, mentors and role models. You can make use of the ELLEvate Facebook group, attend our entrepreneurship events, or access opportunities to connect through business coaching. If you would like to be matched with a mentor and receive at least one hour of support, your business coach can set that up for you.

If chosen for the ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs Pre-Accelerator, you will have access to:

Seasoned Business Advisors
Exclusive Programming
Awards and Funding
A Community Peer Network

Meet Emilie Plante, 2023’s ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs Pre-Accelerator Winner

Emilie Plante, Founder of Excellent Speakers Academy, an online academy that harnesses language learning techniques along with acting and storytelling to help ESL (English as a second language) speakers communicate with confidence, took home the evening’s jury-selected top prize of $10,000, as well as the $1,000 cohort award. 

An ESL speaker herself, Emilie founded Excellent Speakers Academy to help others find their voice. “I understand what it’s like to go about your day-to-day life in a language where you can’t express yourself as well. I help people shift their mindset so they can communicate effectively, even when they may not have the language skillset yet.” After participating in the cohort program, Emilie realized she loved being around entrepreneurs and had an intimate understanding of the challenges they face, so she created a program specifically tailored to ESL entrepreneurs.  

Meet Shaleen Ratansi, 2022’s pre-accelerator winner

Shaleen Ratansi is the founder of Aiya ayiA, an ethical, plant-based luxury handbag brand disrupting the fashion industry. Aiya ayiA is a circular company that repurposes leftover agricultural materials to create zero-waste, clean fashion. The brand is purpose-driven and built to give back, with a portion of profits donated to organizations that help rescue girls and women from abuse & poverty and provide them with support, education, and tools to empower them to mold their own future.

Meet Taylor Pogue, 2021’s pre-accelerator winner

Taylor Pogue is the Founder of Buttery Foods, a ready-made meal service that provides busy families with delicious, well-balanced meals. Taylor came out as the grand winner of the 2021 pre-accelerator demo day, and like Julie her predecessor, also benefited from the top $10,000 award.

Taylor’s favourite quote is by Oprah Winfrey: “I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity. If you hadn’t been prepared when the opportunity came along, you wouldn’t have been lucky”. Like Oprah, Taylor believes that “the only way to reach your dreams is through hard work and grit, so that when the opportunities arise, you’re ready to run with them.”

Meet Julie Tzeng, 2020’s

pre-accelerator winner

Julie Tzeng is the Founder of Arshae, a footwear startup that is redesigning the lifecycle of shoes. Julie emerged as the big winner of the ELLEvate Women Entrepreneurs Pre-Accelerator Demo Day in 2020, taking home the top award of $10,000.

Julie says “Entrepreneurship is a huge rollercoaster. ELLEvate really helped support me through the amazing cohort of peers, business coaches and mentors. We celebrated wins and problem-solved through challenges together. When I think of my award, I think of the people who walked every step of the way with me to demo day and beyond. It’s also the first award I’ve won for Arshae and it’s extremely validating”.

“SAP’s pillars of focus align strongly with YES’s work,

particularly when it comes to driving change in equity, diversity and inclusion in Quebec’s entrepreneurial landscape. We recognize the value of experimenting to ultimately lead to better solutions. We also recognize that you can’t build great solutions unless you bring diverse thinking around the table. Both as the Managing Director for SAP Labs Canada and as a Montreal-based female leader, I am very proud to be associated with YES.”

Cindy Fagen
Managing Director, SAP Labs Canada

“One thing that really stood out for me was how interactive and personalized the program was, considering the fact that it was virtual.”

Illandra Page

“Our weekly coaching sessions kept us accountable, and our Coaches planned and measured our progression through the program.

They posed thought-provoking questions and they offered seasoned advice, as well as a fresh perspective. We covered tough topics, like “what is your business’ why” and “what are your unique value propositions”.”

Laura Blom
Oceanica Skincare

Sign up to get business support through ELLEvate

Need business advice?

Let’s transform your vision into reality! Get in touch to find out more.

Call (438) 812-0175 or email Jayna Patel, Entrepreneurship Services Coordinator at [email protected].

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