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Empowering Women Entrepreneurs: Ravens Rest Retreat Journey with the WEOC Loan Program

Founded in 2021 by Heidi Penning and Jim deVries, Ravens Rest Retreat was built with nature in mind. Offering three rustic cabins, (and one deluxe cottage coming Spring 2024!) on the Noel Shore of Nova Scotia, Ravens Rest Retreat overlooks Burncoat Head Park. This relaxing retreat offers those who are looking for a peaceful getaway from the noise and stress of everyday life, a chance for rejuvenation. Welcoming people of all backgrounds, Ravens Rest Retreat is a wonderful place to rest body and mind, and recharge the spirit, including rare opportunities to interact with local wildlife; chickens, highlander cows, and alpacas! 

Heidi, originally from Ontario, moved to Nova Scotia in 2021 and recently took part in the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC) National Loan program. This program offers an inclusive approach to lending and providing robust wrap-around services that sets women entrepreneurs up for continued growth and success by offering loans up to $50,000. The Centre for Women in Business is the Nova Scotia delivery partner for the WEOC loan fund. “I googled what was available in Nova Scotia and was thrilled to discover and connect with the Centre for Women in Business at Mount Saint Vincent University. They have been so supportive throughout this process!”  

We know that the thought of applying for a loan, especially as a woman business owner can be very daunting, “I applied to the “Big 5” banks with a resounding no, not yet. I quickly realized gender biases and discrimination, sadly, is still real today. I have faced stereotypes, prejudices, and unconscious biases before reaching out to the CWB.”  

“I found the process of applying for the WEOC loan to be very smooth and supportive. My advice for those who are considering applying is to prepare a solid business plan that showcases your passion and vision for your business that clearly demonstrates how this loan will help you achieve your goals.”  

“The WEOC Loan will help to market our retreat to a wider audience, especially women travelers who are looking for a safe space to rest, reset, and recharge. It will also enhance our guest experience to include activities such as yoga, meditation, forest bathing, etc., and create employment opportunities for local women.”  

The WEOC loan program not only helps to support women-led businesses but has the potential to help businesses thrive, grow, and gain new opportunities that might not have been accessible before. 

Nora at the CWB was super helpful and offered great advice and mentorship! The WEOC Loan program is a great federal initiative that supports increased women’s participation in the economy.”  

Learn more about Ravens Rest Retreat here! 

To learn more about the WEOC National Loan Program, click here.