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BDC pursues partnership with Cisco to support its Circle of Innovation program

For the second year in a row, BDC is partnering with Cisco to support its Circle of Innovation program to help women-owned businesses build on their digital strategies. Five of BDC’s clients–one in each region –have been chosen to participate in this program. The program, which began last year as a pilot for three entrepreneurs, has been expanded to include one BDC client from each region.

Circle of Innovation lets five selected women entrepreneurs work hand-in-hand with a Cisco-sponsored intern from the University of Waterloo (and a Cisco engineer mentor) for 12 weeks on projects such as IT strategy, and technical deployments and challenges, which could include things like developing applications, systems administration and help desk functionality.

The program is managed by Cisco, Communitech and BDC, with promotional support from the Women of Influence (WOI) national organization, dedicated to the advancement of professional women. Entrepreneurs are nominated by BDC and Communitech.

The five BDC clients selected to work with a Cisco intern are:

  • B.C. and North: Sandra Dussault, Vertical Suits
  • Prairies: Kathleen L. Mullally, The Small Business Specialists Inc.
  • Ontario: Joanne Johnson, Armstrong Monitoring Corporation
  • Quebec: Deborah Assaly, Paramount Paper Products
  • Atlantic: Dallas Mercer, Dallas Mercer Consulting Inc.

To round out the support for entrepreneurs, interns are assigned to a Cisco mentor and have access to Cisco’s crowdsourced DevNet community, which gives them the tools, resources and code needed to build innovative, network-enabled solutions. The interns can work from Cisco’s Innovation Centre in Toronto, from the entrepreneur’s office or even remotely, thanks to Cisco’s collaboration technology.

Entrepreneur Sherri Stevens, president of SRG Workforce Training and Development worked with a Cisco intern last year to enhance a system already in place to help potential hires develop industry-specific skills aligned with SRG’s clients’ needs. “It was a great experience,” she said of her time with her intern. “Our intern was very eager and showed a lot of initiative and we were really pleased with the way the project turned out.”

For more information, contact Juan Davila, Analyst, Partnerships, at juan.davila@bdc.ca.

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