ELLA is run by Innovation York, which also runs YSpace, York University’s innovation hub, and is made possible through partnerships with Small Business Enterprise Centres across York Region and funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
Who We Are
A community & accelerator
ELLA was created by York University's Innovation York with funding from The Government of Canada's Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). The Government of Canada is advancing women's economic empowerment with the first ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a nearly $5-billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.
Tied to our core
York University has led the way in social justice since its inception, in 1959. Having had its first woman president in 1993 and still having a strong women presence in upper management, pushing for change to provide equal gender opportunity is truly tied to the university's core values.
Our Mission & Why
Our mission is to reduce the gap of gender inequality in entrepreneurship. We believe every woman entrepreneur should have access to the community, information, and resources they need to scale their business.
Having a world in balance is healthy in many ways. Only 16% of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are owned by women. Bringing parity in entrepreneurship, i.e. bridging the gap between having 16% of women founders compared to 50%, leads to $150B in opportunity for the Canadian economy.
For women, by women
Studies show that businesses with women founders raise more money and build better results. Yet, women often dismiss entrepreneurship as an option due to its impact on their family lives and its high risk. ELLA shows women possible paths to success, proven by women founders who have already embarked on them, and gives them the support of an outstanding community.
Committed to diversity
We are committed to empowering women and we welcome women of all backgrounds, identities, and abilities. We are proud to build programs that are inclusive, are created and hosted by women, for women, and have a highly intersectional reach.
What we do
Here's how we're doing it:
We know it takes a village. That's why we're building one.
We're bringing together entrepreneurs, mentors, industry experts, and supporters that believe in our mission of helping women rise in entrepreneurship. When a woman succeeds in building a viable venture, she lifts her clients, family, community and more along with her. Imagine this success on a broader scale, with many women entrepreneurs getting the individualized support they need to be successful in their fields. The benefits to us all are boundless.
Visit our community page to learn more about the ELLA Community and how you can help.
ELLA Accelerator Programs
We're providing the tailored training and support programs women entrepreneurs need, 100% free of cost. We've considered industry, stage of business, growth goals and more to offer these customized programs:
A 5-month program for women-led ventures that have paying customers and sales of over $50,000. Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to connect with a network of experts and entrepreneurs, and learn the skills needed to take their business to the next level.
Program Duration: March - July
A 4-month program for women-led ventures that have sales of over $250,000 and are moving towards national and international expansion. With one-on-one advice and support, entrepreneurs are able to get the resources they need to bring their business to the world stage.
Program Duration: October - January
The ELLA Team
ELLA is run by Innovation York, the innovation office for York University. The office also manages York University’s entrepreneurship program, YSpace and incubator space, YSpace Markham. Innovation York works to facilitate and maximize the commercial, economic, and social impacts of research and innovation, and to create a culture of engaged scholarship and experiential learning. The ELLA Team is committed to Innovation York’s mandate by providing the tailored support women entrepreneurs need to be successful. Our team consists of experienced professionals with diverse backgrounds in business and entrepreneurship, working together to create lasting impact. It’s our mission to close the gender gap in entrepreneurship.
Assistant Vice President, Innovation & Research Partnerships
Sarah is a business development professional with extensive experience fostering innovation and developing strategic business operations. Over the past six years, Sarah has successfully created an innovation office at York University that provides a myriad of services across the university and has grown the team to 17.
Associate Director, Entrepreneurship
David joined York University in 2017 David is a driven leader with an extensive background in strategic planning, innovation program creation, and partnership development.
Since joining York University in 2017, David has Co-Founded York University’s first physical incubator space, YSpace in York Region and Ontario’s first Food & Beverage Accelerator focused on growth stage CPG ventures.
Entrepreneurship Manager, ELLA
Nicole has over 11 years' experience developing startups and working with organizations to design policies and programs to support entrepreneurship.
Before joining ELLA, Nicole managed iBoost, an early-stage tech incubator at Ryerson University where she developed programming and partnerships to enhance entrepreneur education.
Program Advisor, ELLA & YSpace
Judy has over 20 years of experience in the food industry, with leading multiple businesses with Kraft & Modelez, and working at a Nielsen Company as a VP in Analytics.
She is an entrepreneur, with experience growing two divisions through double digit growth in revenue and fast-growing teams to support.
Maria Lisa Lionti
ELLA Coordinator, Programming & Events
Maria holds over 5 years of experience in programming, events and logistics management. Her portfolio includes such accolades as coordinating the International Human Trafficking and Awareness Conference for the Toronto Police Service and holding the Lead Facilitator position for the Business Management course; Strategies for Success.
Marketing & Communications, Innovation York
Keila works with organizations to establish effective brand strategies. Keila spent 3 years as CSR and Secure Desk Operator at TD Canada Trust before accepting a role as Marketing Assistant at Hy-Grade Steel Roofing. She was promoted to the management team as Marketing Manager, where she ran the province-wide company's portfolio of marketing and communications for 2+ years before joining ELLA.
Students & Community Engagement Coordinator
Diana is a creative leader with over 11 years of communications, event management, and marketing experience. She has successfully coordinated and managed over 300 events across Canada, designed and developed strategic marketing and communication campaigns, and has created communication pieces aimed at telling compelling brand stories.
Sign up for our newsletter!
Stay up to date and receive newsletter updates about ELLA.