A new gift from Desjardins to York University’s Innovation York will expand two critical accelerator programs that provide training and support in entrepreneurship and help promote innovation.
The funding will continue both Desjardins and York’s commitment to fostering positive change for diverse local communities and uniquely global perspectives.
The gift supports two initiatives at York, with an infusion over five years to GENIAL (Glendon Entrepreneuriat et Innovation A L’International) and over two years to ELLA (Entrepreneurial Leadership & Learning Alliance).
“We are thrilled to partner with Desjardins to create greater access and opportunities for women-led businesses,” says Jennifer MacLean, assistant vice-president, innovation and research partnerships at York University. “This partnership will enable York University’s YSpace to expand our impact in the community and continue to foster the skills and talents of young entrepreneurs.”
GENIAL is a bilingual initiative that offers training, extracurricular activities, and a research program in entrepreneurship and innovation. Desjardins’ gift will allow GENIAL to scale up its bilingual Entrepreneurial Skills Passport (ESP) program that is currently offered to Glendon students. Through the ESP program, GENIAL has trained a diverse population of students from liberal arts and business backgrounds, including domestic and international students enrolled in business, economics, communications, translation, international studies, sociology and psychology. GENIAL was launched in 2017 by Angelo Dossou-Yovo, associate professor of management and entrepreneurship.
Desjardins also supported York’s first accelerator focused on supporting women-led product- and service-based businesses. The donation to ELLA – a program created by women, for women – will support the program for the next two years. The funding will help with the sustainability of ELLA’s accelerator programming that provides women entrepreneurs with access to the community, knowledge and resources they need to scale their business.
“With Desjardins’ support, YSpace’s ELLA program will be able to help more women entrepreneurs, particularly those in consumer packaged goods and professional services, take their businesses to greater heights and scale up into national and international markets,” said David Kwok, associate director, entrepreneurship. “This gift recognizes the value in supporting women-led product- and service-based businesses, providing them with resources as robust as those currently found in the tech sector.”
To recognize their contribution and commitment, Desjardins is invited to take part in ELLA’s national advisory committee and act as subject-matter experts to help shape the program’s future.
“Entrepreneurs play an important role in our society. They are creating innovative solutions to the needs of Canadians and the challenges they face,” said Guy Cormier, president and CEO of Desjardins Group. “We are proud to support York University and their young entrepreneurs. They will help shape the world of tomorrow and we’re incredibly happy to be part of something that will give them the resources and tools they need to pursue their goals in life.”
Students and other members of the York community are invited to attend a public talk by Cormier on Sept. 12 at the Schulich Executive Learning Centre on York’s Keele Campus. Hear Cormier’s professional journey, starting as a cashier, and how he worked his way up through Desjardins to become the youngest president in the history of the organization. He will also talk openly about the challenges he’s faced in his career and his vision of modern leadership, and answer audience questions.
Click here to register for the event on Sept. 12: go.yorku.ca/desjardins-visit2023.