Sharing the wealth
St. John’s-based company to give women-owned businesses a boost
SEAFAIR CAPITAL INC. president and CEO Anne Whelan has decided to lead by example when it comes to giving women-owned businesses a helping hand.
The longtime Newfoundland and Labrador entrepreneur announced this spring that Seafair Capital, a group of companies that do business in sectors ranging from seniors home care to industrial supplies, has set a target to dispense 25 per cent of its discretionary spending with women-owned business suppliers.
Whelan says small and medium-sized women-owned businesses often don’t have the same networks and relationships as male-owned firms possess to secure “blue-chip” contracts to take their businesses to the next level. She’s hoping Seafair can help change that by taking the lead on this issue. “I’ve been very vocal that we needed to do more and we needed to set targets for ourselves,” Whelan says. “I’ve put my money where my mouth is.”
That money will be spent on things that Seafair isn’t already committed to such as rent, power and other fixed costs. One example of discretionary spending is the Seafair website redesign project. Whelan says that work can be worth anywhere from $15,000 to $75,000 for a website development company. She points out that setting targets doesn’t mean Seafair will hire women-owned businesses at all costs (“It’s still about making good business decisions and getting good value for those services,”), but it does put the onus on her staff to seek out quality female-owned businesses that might be unknown or underused.
Whelan says she hopes other businesses follow Seafair’s example. But for now, her company has to focus on meeting its 25 per cent target and maybe increasing it someday. “I hope our supply chain becomes as representative of our world as our demographics are,” Whelan says.