[Nanaimo, BC] The Small Scale Food Processor Association (SSFPA) is pleased to announce the launch of Venture-Capital Ready: Investment Training for Women Entrepreneurs. This new national training program is aimed at food industry women/intersectional entrepreneurs looking to scale up their businesses to meet market demand.

This two-year bilingual program, funded by the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy’s Inclusive Venture Capital Program, will empower participants with the skills and confidence to present themselves and their businesses for venture-capital investment.

“Despite recent advances, gender inequality is still an issue in the world of entrepreneurship. Just 16 percent of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada are majority owned by females,” says non-profit Small Business BC. “Women face barriers in accessing capital, are less likely to seek debt and equity financing, and are more likely to be rejected or receive less money. The full and equal participation of women in the economy is essential to Canada’s future competitiveness and prosperity.”

With one-on-one coaching, investment readiness training through financial expert Dr. Ellen Farrell’s Investoready© program, and the opportunity to practice their pitch to investors, women entrepreneurs will be ready to meet interested investors primed by SVX and Movement 51 to understand impact investment opportunities in the food industry.

Dr. Ellen Farrell’s program will play a key part in elevating the impact that Venture-Capital Ready will have on the Canadian food industry.

“The leadership at SSFPA have undertaken an extremely important project-ensuring venture capital education specifically for women,” she says. “Positioning Investoready© Certified Trainers across the country will benefit everyone by moving more private investment to key Canadian resource sectors.”

By the end of the project in early 2025, the SSFPA is positioned to train 50 women/ intersectional entrepreneurs, equipping them with the know-how to scale their businesses with interested investors who themselves are concerned about the issues facing Canada’s food system.

Pamela Baxter, President of the Board of the Small Scale Food Processor Association, is excited about what this program will bring to these women/intersectional entrepreneurs.

“Venture-Capital Ready is critical for women food entrepreneurs who are otherwise stymied and consigned to remain small,” says Baxter. “When these women with healthy innovative products are ready to grow, they need information, coaching and support to leap over the financing hurdle that has traditionally been almost impossible to surmount.”

The Venture-Capital Ready program has been funded in part through the Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy administered by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. The SSFPA is delivering the program with the support of the following partners:

This program is offered free of charge for participants nationwide upon acceptance. Women/intersectional entrepreneurs are simply asked to agree to complete the program in its entirety. Applications open on September 18, 2023.

For more information on the program and application, visit the Venture-Capital Ready website.

If you are an investor interested in learning more about the project, contact Sandy Mark, Project Manager, at

Food Processing Skills Canada

The attached presentation was made to the Canadian Supply Chain Food Safety Coalition in April 2023.

SSFPA Accepted into WES Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative

The SSFPA is excited to announce that our proposal to the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy’s Inclusive Venture Capital Initiative was successful! This partnership will allow the SSFPA and partner organizations across Canada to assist women/intersectional entrepreneurs that produce Consumer Packaged Goods to strengthen their capacity to access venture capital funding. Read the full press release here.

March 2023 Newsletter

The March edition of Table Talks is here! To sign up the receive the newsletter monthly in your inbox, click here.

SSFPA Learn to Earn Webinar Series

Check out the newest webinar in SSFPA’s Learn to Earn series: Learn to Earn with EnWave Radiant Energy Vacuum Dehydration (REV™) Technology

SSFPA x PARO “Foodpreneur Biz Camp”

Put on in partnership with PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise, the FOODPRENEUR BIZCamp is designed to provide entrepreneurs in the Commercial Packaged Goods (CPG) industry with a comprehensive understanding of the foodpreneur journey from ideation to scale-up, to exporting your product. The FOODPRENEUR BIZCamp will take place over the course of 12 weeks, approximately 2-4 hours per week starting February 16, 2023. Participants will receive the tools, insights, and information they need to scale up their business, build traction, and establish a dynamic, safe, food or drink product on-shelf. Click here for more information and to register.

February Newsletter

The February edition of Table Talks is here! To sign up the receive the newsletter monthly in your inbox, click here.

SSFPA Celebrates 20th Anniversary

The SSFPA celebrated its 20th Anniversary on October 21, 2022. The event was marked with a virtual celebration that included a look back at the last 20 years, a summary of upcoming exciting initiatives, words from provincial minister Lana Popham, and awards. Visit the anniversary webpage to watch the recording and see the full list of award recipients.

Farm Credit Canada’s Women Entrepreneur Summit

Farm Credit Canada’s Women Entrepreneur Summit is being held virtually on March 8, 2022 from 2:00 – 4:00 pm eastern time. This is a great webinar for all members – topics covered will include:
> Finding Your Financial Footing: 4 steps to get a handle on your Moola
> Talking the Talk: Learning to initiate, focus, and make progress on team’s business meetings
> Everyday Resiliency in Ever-Changing Times
The speakers include a business journalist, an FCC business advisor specializing in agriculture, and a workplace wellness expert. To view more information and sign up, click the image below.

FCC Summit

New Micro-certificate in Food Safety Management Course

If you are passionate about food safety, take the next step!

If you are looking to move ahead in food production, train online with UBC’s new Micro-certificate in Food Safety Management. Courses are three-weeks in duration, and prepare you to work in quality assurance in the food and beverage processing industry. British Columbia has an entrepreneurial and ever-growing food and beverage industry. In 2020, 35,000 people worked in food and beverage processing, and the industry recorded sales of $11 billion, a jump of 5.5% over 2019.

To fill the growing need for quality assurance professionals, this program will provide you with the skills needed for an exciting career in a position, such as:
> Continuous Improvement Manager
> Government Health Inspection Officer
> Consultant
> Food Safety Specialist
> Quality Control Technician

The first course starts in Spring 2022! This new online Micro-certificate in Food Safety Management is offered by University of British Columbia (UBC) and BCIT. Learn more:

A high school diploma and English proficiency are minimum requirements, and a background or interest in a science or engineering discipline would be an asset.

“I declare the Women’s Initiative Website up and running”

Three years ago, Status of Women Canada, now called Women and Gender Equality (WAGE for short) generously agreed to fund the SSFPA’s proposal to study financing issues that women food processors face when starting or scaling up their businesses. Our goal was to strengthen economic security for women food processors. While both women and men food processors face issues, research shows that women in particular encounter magnified barriers. On December 8, 2021, the SSFPA officially launched the website associated with this project – Processors across Canada will find self-help tools, extensive resources, and inspirational stories. Here’s a link to the video of the project launch including a presentation by Hadriana Leo, CEO, Money Navigator International.

Candice Appleby: BCBusiness 2021 Women of the Year
runner-up non-profit category

SSFPA Executive Director, Candice Appleby, was recently named BCBusiness 2021 Women of the Year non profit leader runner-up in recognition of her impactful leadership of SSFPA:

Candice Appleby got an early start as an entrepreneur. At 15 in her hometown of Regina, she earned a real estate licence so she could fill in for her realtor dad. Appleby owned a car detailing shop, a music store and a fishing resort before taking over the two-year-old Small Scale Food Processor Association (SSFPA) in 2004. The food business and its regulations are complex, Appleby notes. “I find the food system as a whole really similar to jazz, especially if you use all 10 fingers,” the musician says with a laugh. The Nanaimo-based SSFPA, which aims to be Canada’s top support organization for small and medium-sized food processors, helps them navigate that minefield. Its 350-plus members have access to a variety of food safety and other educational programs, plus help with marketing, networking and advocacy. Because the SSFPA has a small budget, it operates through partnerships, Appleby explains. One such effort is its food safety programs, which meet international standards. Another alliance launched the Foodmetrics Community Food Analysis Lab, where processors and growers can do the testing they need to sell at grocery chains and to export, in Courtenay in 2018. “It’s food safety and those requirements—industry requirements much more so than government—that dictate access to markets,” Appleby says.When COVID struck, the SSFPA noticed that many government supports left small food processors behind. So it joined forces with a member to create the Food Business Refresh program, which has seen several participants pivot and enhance their operations. Appleby served on the advisory committee for the provincial government’s Buy BC, Feed BC and Grow BC marketing campaigns, as well as for its Food Hub Network. “I see huge upside in B.C.,” she says of her industry. “Together we’re strong.”


Developed by the Small Scale Food Processor Association, the Refresh program is designed to help rejuvenate food processing businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19.
Eligible participants receive guided, hands-on support, tailored to your company’s situation and objectives. The program helps you to:

  • Analyze options to pivot your business

  • Develop an implementation plan so your business can take advantage of new opportunities

  • PLUS, access funding options and support to implement your plan so that you can be successful for the long-term.

For all program details and to apply, visit the website. Please also share with any other businesses you think might benefit from the Refresh program.

Enjoy these Food Business Refresh videos:

This program was developed with the support of the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture.

refresh layout bc ssfpa

Refresh Program Helping Small B.C. Food Businesses

Small B.C. food businesses are accessing customized training, coaching, business planning and implementation support through the Food Business Refresh Program, and the results are being served in communities across British Columbia. Here are some of their stories.

In partnership with the Small-Scale Food Processing Association and Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Food Business Refresh Program is a $650,000 cost-shared program helping local businesses find new opportunities and pivot from markets disrupted by COVID-19.

Launched in October 2020, the program helps participants access mentorship services like business coaching and food industry expertise, along with implementation support to help small businesses adapt to the changing conditions of the pandemic.

Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries, said, “Throughout the pandemic, farmers, fishers and food and beverage processors have shown incredible resilience by adapting their businesses to keep communities fed, employed and safe. I’m proud of the local success stories we’re seeing through the Food Business Refresh Program as businesses develop new ways for people to enjoy made-in-B.C. food that helps strengthen our food security and our local economies.”

This funding is part of $10-billion COVID-19 response, which includes StrongerBC: BC’s Economic Recovery Plan that protects people’s health and livelihoods while supporting and livelihoods while supporting businesses and communities.

For more information about the Food Business Refresh Program, visit:

For more information about StrongerBC, visit: