Businesswoman Paulette Fudge has been re-elected as the president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE).
Fudge, who owns Whole Health in Corner Brook and co-owns a second location in St. John’s, was re-elected at the first board meeting following the organization’s annual general meeting Thursday in Gander, held during the organization’s annual provincial conference.
Fudge said she’s happy to begin her second yearlong term as president of the organization, which is funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency and the provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador, and governed by a volunteer board of directors.
“This is a very exciting time in our province. For me to be re-elected at the helm of such a well-established organization as NLOWE,” she said. “I’m very proud of the direction NLOWE has been taking. Years ago, it was mostly a startup, and that’s when I got involved with NLOWE, but now NLOWE plays a leading role in assisting women entrepreneurs in developing and growing their businesses. We help them capitalize on emerging opportunities in our province — we’re now establishing businesses in non-traditional sectors, promoting women in those areas, such as oil and gas, hydro and mining.”
Fudge said the biggest challenge for female business owners is often simply accessing the information and services available to them.
“We always have a lot of different challenges. Most of it is that we’re small businesses,” she said, using herself as an example — NLOWE helped Fudge develop a marketing plan. “Now I’ve been in business 14 years and I’m considered an advanced business owner. There’s still opportunities there for me to avail of assistance.”
Fudge’s daughter runs the store in St. John’s, and is part of a “mastermind group” which meets once a month to look at ways to increase business.
“We’re a huge support system for women in business.”
Fudge dismisses the suggestion that an organization that assists just female entrepreneurs is sexist, pointing out that business is still very male-dominant.
“Women in business are a minority group. We want to help grow women in business so they’re not a minority group anymore,” she said. “If you look statistically at women that are at the helm of all businesses, we still are so far behind.”