Startop incubator: a first cohort of entrepreneurs in the social economy

Incubator Startop: a first cohort of entrepreneurs in the social economy

Aïssatou Sidibé, founder of the organization Vivre100fibromes and participant in the first cohort of the social economy incubator Startop, accompanied by Mariam Coulibaly , founder and CEO of the non-profit organization.

On January 27, the Montreal incubator of women's communities Startop highlighted the participation of ten women entrepreneurs from ethnocultural diversity in the first cohort of its support program, which has enabled certain organizations to make the transition to the social economy. .

About thirty women members of the ten participating organizations gathered at Maison Notman to celebrate the end of the program, which has enabled several community organizations to develop products and services related to their mission and several private companies with a social mission. to become non-profit organizations.

“We accompanied the ten entrepreneurs for nine months to structure their business plan and work on their governance,” says Mariam Coulibaly, founder and CEO of Startop . Located in Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, Startop, founded in 2018, is the only social economy incubator in Quebec for women from ethnocultural diversity.

Being an entrepreneur is not easy. Being together makes us stronger and encourages us.

Mariam Coulibaly, CEO of Startop

Support adapted to women

< p>Although Quebec facilitates training for business start-ups, there is still a long way to go to create support programs that meet the specific needs of women entrepreneurs, says Mariam Coulibaly.

“The majority of women who go into business have full-time jobs and need evening and weekend services. If we do not have suitable offers, we miss out. This is not how we will achieve parity in entrepreneurship,” she argues.

I saw a lot of women drop out of entrepreneurship after a while, so I wondered what we are doing wrong. I was keen to help these women by creating a pre-startup program to work on their entrepreneurial potential and self-confidence.

Mariam Coulibaly, CEO of Startop

The original manager from Côte d'Ivoire has been supporting entrepreneurs since 2011 and created its organization to help “put female diversity on the map”.

“There is not enough diversity in the leadership of organizations. It is important for me to show that women of diversity are there and that you just have to look for them in the right place”, underlines Ms. Coulibaly, who wishes to give more visibility to women entrepreneurs who have a social impact.

Startop incubator: a first cohort of female entrepreneurs in the social economy

First cohort of the Montreal social economy incubator Startop. Photo: Karla Meza, Métro

Expanding your network

“Participating in this cohort allowed me to meet other immigrant women and create new projects with them . It's encouraging to see successful women,” says Christella Tchicaya, co-founder of the non-profit organization Acte d'Amour, whose offices are located in the borough of Saint-Laurent and in Magog.

The organization founded in Montreal in 2016 organizes activities and events that aim to break the isolation of seniors, promote the socioeconomic integration of immigrant women, support young people who do not have access to extracurricular activities and encourage intercultural rapprochement.

“Thanks to the support of Startop, we were able to develop a business plan and a service offer that will allow us to seek the necessary financing to acquire a mobile studio”, underlines the entrepreneur from Congo-Brazzaville, who grew up in Senegal and wants to produce video clips on the journey of immigrant women across Quebec to promote them on her organization's YouTube channel.

Startop Incubator: a first cohort of female entrepreneurs in the social economy

Christella Tchicaya, founder of the organization Acte d’Amour and participant in the first cohort of the social economy incubator Startop. Photo: Karla Meza, Metro

Access to Resources

“Startop allowed us to better define our service offer to reach as many women as possible and to have training on governance and financing strategies,” says Aïssatou Sidibé, founder of the organization Vivre100fibromes, whose mission is to improve the care and quality of life of women with uterine fibroids in Quebec and Canada.

“Startop also allowed us to have access to the services of a lawyer free of charge and to get to know a network of professionals who can equip us and support us in our mission.”

A nurse for more than ten years, the French entrepreneur of Senegalese origin founded her organization after noticing the lack of educational resources on this disease, which she herself was diagnosed with. “I started by creating the Fibromelle blog in 2014 and I founded the organization in 2016. I didn't choose the cause, it was the cause that chose me.”


Through her organization, which is located in the borough of Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Ms. Sidibé conducts an awareness campaign, organizes information workshops with women and professionals, and supports research projects aimed at to find an effective treatment for the disease.

Awards and scholarships

Four recognition scholarships of 1000&nbsp ;$ were offered by the Caisse d'économie solidaire Desjardins to women entrepreneurs who stood out in the cohort.

“We want to support the development of the female entrepreneurial community. We know that when we support women, it definitely rebounds,” says Martin-Pierre Nombré, director of strategic development at Desjardins, which has been supporting social entrepreneurship for fifty years.

For his part, The Knowledge Portal for Women in Entrepreneurship (PCFE) has awarded ten prizes worth $500 to the winning Black women entrepreneurs of the Flash Black competition, which will allow them to participate in the next cohort of Startop.< /p>

This text was produced as part of the Local Journalism Initiative.

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