The provincial government is providing $100,000 in funding for the Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) to expand mentoring programs, which help women throughout British Columbia learn business skills.

On Oct. 14, Christy Clark make the announcement at We for She: Championing the Next Generation, one of North America’s largest gathering of women’s organizations, companies, experts, business leaders, advocates and young women.

“Women own and operate 38 per cent of British Columbia’s businesses,” said Clark — with the national average sitting at 36 per cent, according to Stats Canada, which places B.C. third among all provinces.

“Equipping them with more tools to help them succeed encourages more young women to follow their own dreams… By helping more women reach their potential, we can lift entire communities up,” she said.

The goal of the gathering, according to the province, is to advance gender equality and by giving students and young women a greater understanding of their career options and potential, expanding their confidence in what they can achieve, and giving them a chance to meet dynamic and successful role models.

Ultimately, in turn, the province says it hopes to grow the provincial economy, too.

“Building women’s confidence to pursue their career aspirations is vital to increasing opportunities for women in business,” says MLA for Prince George-Valemount and Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour.

“Canadian women are starting businesses at a faster rate than men, and this program is tailored to give them the confidence to navigate the financial options that are available to them,” she says.

With the added funding, the WEC will provide three different mentoring formats to ensure accessibility and relevance throughout the province that include: Five new one-to-one mentors; Peer mentoring that will include 40 new women mentees; and deliver six mentor advisory forums to 300 more participants, it said in a statement.

In addition, WEC is partnering with the Certified Professional Accountants of BC to develop and deliver five peer mentoring groups in five separate communities of the province with the goal of increasing women business owner’s financial literacy, according to the province.

This means a minimum of 30 small business owners will get six months of peer mentoring helping them better understand financial statements, cash flows, the impact of price changes on overall profitability, and more.

With the financial support from the Province of B.C., WEC says it has been able to offer a mentoring program to women in the early stages of their business since 2007.

This year’s funding comes from a partnership between the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training (JTST), which is contributing $50,000, and the Ministry of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction (SBRT), which is contributing the remaining $50,000, according to the province.

The program will run from Nov. 1, 2016, through Oct. 31, 2017.