Cathy Robertson’s 18-year career spans many aspects of business but, since 2008, she has been the general manager of Community Futures Cowichan.
In this role, she oversees a range of community-based business development projects, the lending program, and the day-to-day management of the organization.
As well, Robertson chairs the provincial Community Futures marketing committee but she also makes time to work with local governments and business groups and deals with many women in business.
It’s interesting to note that “50 per cent of the loan clients at Community Futures Cowichan are females,” she said. “Either they are the sole applicant and hold the loan with us or they are a joint applicant and hold a loan with us. Often, if they are the sole applicant, the husbands may be the primary income earner in the house but she is looking for funds to start a business of her own.”
Another stat that’s interesting is the percentage of businesses in the downtown Duncan core that are owned by females.
“It’s crazy high,” Robertson said. “Ninety per cent are either owned or co-owned.”
Looking at her own experience, the Community Futures general manager has noted a few other things.
“I find from my interaction from our loan clients, as a fairly well understood and accepted statistic, that females entrepreneurs have some characteristics about them.
1. They tend to be more cautious, in that they want to go in with a well-researched business plan, a little bit different from their male counterparts who may be more likely to want to just get the thing started, and make it up as they go.
2. They are also value driven in the businesses they choose to enter. We have some who have started a business because it’s a personal cause to them, which is typical of a female entrepreneur. They are motivated by their passion to offer a personal service.
3. Females tend to be more focused on continuous improvement both to themselves and in business. They are always seeking resources. They are the ones who tend to show up at courses. If they see an issue in the business, they want to stop and learn about it. They ask a lot of questions so they can make themselves better. I’m not saying men aren’t, but they seem more likely to just go for it and expect to figure it out as they go.
4. Our women clients tend to want to understand what they are getting into before they jump in. We will see them for multiple appointments before they pull the trigger to start their business. Our male clients come in and describe their project and the next time they come in they want the money, they want to get started.”