MasterCard Women in Entrepreneurship Program at Ryerson University

By: Yasmin Ranade

March 25, 2015

March 13, 2014.The Digital Media Zone at Ryerson University (DMZ) announced the ‘MasterCard Women in Entrepreneurship Program’ earlier this month, aimed to fuel the success of women-led start-ups. Through the support of MasterCard, the DMZ is looking to strengthen its community of female founders and co-founders and support these women as they scale their businesses.  Applications  will close on April 6.

The DMZ is a hub of innovation, collaboration and commercialization, and is the top-ranked university incubator in Canada and fifth in the world. Since opening in April 2010, the DMZ has incubated and accelerated 180 start-ups, which have collectively raised more than $60 million in funding and fostered more than 1,580 jobs.

“Like Ryerson, MasterCard believes that there’s a gender gap in the entrepreneurial world; women are noticeably underrepresented,” explained MasterCard. “We are working with Ryerson to create and fuel programs that strengthen the community of female founders and co-founders and support these women as they scale their business.”

The $60,000 program will stimulate the success of six women-led startups through cash prizes and placement at the DMZ, the top-ranked university-based incubator in Canada and one of the largest co-working spaces for entrepreneurs.

As part of their six to eight month residency at the DMZ, six successful applicants will receive:

  • a customized intensive boot camp, including a design thinking program, to advance their business
  • co-working space and services
  • business development opportunities
  • networking
  • comprehensive mentorship from DMZ advisors and entrepreneurs-in-residence
  • access to customers, influencers, experts and a supportive community of innovative entrepreneurs

Furthermore, the selected entrepreneurs will receive comprehensive mentorship from DMZ advisors and entrepreneurs-in-residence.

“As a technology company with an eye to the future, we believe in enabling creative entrepreneurs to drive their vision,” said Betty DeVita, President, MasterCard Canada. “Innovation is in our DNA and we’re thrilled to support women who are going to become tomorrow’s technology leaders.”

Vicki Saunders, Entrepreneur in Residence Ryerson DMZ

Vicki Saunders, Entrepreneur in Residence Ryerson DMZ

“Less than five per cent of female entrepreneurs actively seek a mentor, and yet those with a mentor have a 50 per cent greater chance of being in business after three years,” said Vicki Saunders, Entrepreneur in Residence at the DMZ. “Building stronger support programs specific to women’s needs, like this one, will have a significant positive impact on the Canadian economy.”

MasterCard’s donation to Ryerson is one part of the company’s YES: Youth in Entrepreneurial Success — a multi-faceted philanthropic commitment to Canadian youth who may not otherwise have the resources to explore and participate in entrepreneurship. Working in partnership with The Next 36, Ryerson University, Ladies Learning Code and the University of Waterloo, YES will also focus on programs that introduce the entrepreneurial way of thinking to youth who lack resources or support to understand what is possible.

The competition is open to female entrepreneurs who are the current founder, co-founder or CEO of a startup. Bonus points will be given to startups working in the areas of online and terminal payment integration, loyalty points, cyber security and financial technology.

Applicants must be a woman, and must also meet the following criteria:

  • is a legal resident of Canada (except Quebec);
  • is of the age of majority in the province or territory of residence; and
  • is a founder, cofounder, or a leader (i.e. CEO, president) of a start-up business (for each Entrant, the “Start-up Business”); and
  • meet the standard requirements for membership in the DMZ (as determined by the Contest Sponsor) including the following qualifications:
  • has a business solution that solves an important problem (i.e. economic or social);
  • makes innovative use of technology (hardware or software) as part of their business solution;
  • has a business plan (e.g. lean canvas);
  • has a prototype of their product that enables customer feedback and business development; and
  • is comprised of individuals who are driven, passionate and coachable.

Applications  will close on April 6 at 11:59 p.m.

To apply, visit


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