PayPal shines spotlight on women entrepreneurs
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is ‘Balance for Better,’ a topic that touches on gender inequality and the wage gap.
As any woman in business knows, the key to success comes from having the right support system in place.
In the spirit of International Women’s Day, PayPal has chosen to highlight four entrepreneurs that have not only found success themselves, but have made a career out of paying it forward and helping other women overcome challenges.
By paying their success forward, these PayPal merchants are doing their part in ensuring women have equal access to income and opportunity and creating a world that is indeed balanced for better.
To honour these women’s success, PayPal is donating $2 (up to a predetermined amount) to women-inspired charities for every eligible PayPal transaction made in support of these businesses between March 1 and March 23.  The donation will be distributed equally in support of the participating charities.
We are also co-hosting a panel discussion in Toronto along with Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone, one of the top business incubators in the world, on the challenges women entrepreneurs have finding funding for their businesses.
Here’s a bit more about some of the women who inspire us here at PayPal every day.
Dakota and Jesse Brant, co-founders of Sapling & Flint
As Indigenous women living on a reserve, Dakota and Jesse Brant know how crushing it can be to not have equal access to opportunities. That’s why they made sure they would use their business to empower others in their community.
When the twin sisters started thinking of turning her hobby into a business, Dakota had just found out she was pregnant. She knew having a digital business would help expand her business past her community and into the rest of the world.
“Indigenous communities are some of the most economically isolated places in Canada and can have challenges for job creation,” she said. “Then PayPal came along and suddenly we had this really simple way of taking money and sending invoices. Our market went from two or three craft bazaars and Powwows a year, to 365 days of business opportunity.”
With their success, Dakota said they have been able to become the first jewelry wholesale manufacturer that is Indigenous owned and operated on reserve.
This has meant creating jobs and opportunities for women and others in their community.
“We license designs from Indigenous artists and pay them fairly. We opened a manufacturing space in an Indigenous community. We hire Indigenous employees. We manufacture, package & ship on an Indigenous community,” she explained. “From A-Z our brand is creating wealth and distributing it back to Indigenous people. We are bringing job opportunities home.”
The cultural theft of Indigenous designs over the years globally has robbed the community, further exacerbating the cycle of poverty many face, she said.
When asked about her future goals, Dakota said she hopes that giving back to her community in this way will help end that cycle.
“In 10 years, we hope to be a widely recognized brand that is known for bringing authentic Indigenous designs & artists to the jewelry industry and cultural theft by the fashion industry will be a thing of the past,” she said.  “In 20 years, we hope to be the brand that launched the world's top Indigenous jewelers into the global fashion scene.”  
Shelley Jones, owner of Dignify
Shelley Jones’ business involves selling handmade, intricately woven ‘kantha’ quilts, blankets and throws made by underprivileged women in Bangladesh to the world. She named her business Dignify because she wanted to give women in Bangladesh an opportunity to make a better life for themselves.
“The business has always been about more than just a job for women who need it; it’s about providing dignity, love and respect to women, as well as sustainable employment,” she said “We don’t hire women to make blankets, we sell blankets in order to hire more women in a job with dignity. Our name, dignify, represents actively pursuing this dignity for others.”
For Shelley, the goods that she sells and the business she runs has always been based on the idea that meaningful human connections are the key to helping people out of desperate situations.
“One of the amazing features of our blankets is the personal label on each one, where the artisan stitches her name,” Shelley explained. “Our production partner, Basha, posts stories of all of the artisans, so when you receive your blanket, you can look her up, learn about her life, the challenges she has faced and send a message if you like.”
Shelley has faced her own challenges as a woman entrepreneur which has only fueled her desire to help others. She said having a digital business has made things easier, particularly as she works with customers around the world.
“I have so many responsibilities—raising my kids, taking care of my health, being a homeowner, a wife, a friend, a daughter, pursuing spiritual life, not killing my houseplants, changing the oil in the car … when you are an entrepreneur, it definitely adds another huge responsibility,” she said.
In conversations with Shelley, she shared, “Having PayPal be part of my business has made things easier for me because the company is so supportive of small businesses — always seeking ways to be helpful and provide resources and tools to people like me, trying to make a go of it,” she continued. “The PayPal brand is also so strong. The security and reliability that is synonymous with PayPal is a huge asset when you’re asking people to pay online. And, being a Canadian operator, PayPal makes receiving orders from customers in different countries seamless.”
Hayley Mullins, creator of Joeyband
Hayley’s product Joeyband by Sleepbelt™—a stretchy band that safely secures a baby to an adult during skin-to-skin – helps new moms around the world.
Being a new mom, like being in business, is easier when you have the support behind you. That’s the point Hayley and her all-woman team try to drive home every day.
“Getting a business off the ground requires a lot of grit and emotional support.  It’s important to amplify the joy, and remind yourself that the universe is behind you, especially because what we’re doing is so meaningful for maternal health.”
Having an all-woman team is a source of pride for Hayley. In fact, she even considers her young daughter an integral part of the team. After all, Hayley came up with Joeyband after she dropped her daughter when she was just two weeks old.
“My daughter is now 6 and proud of the contribution she has made to maternal health.  My sister Ashley jumped at the opportunity to kickstart the company and with a formidable organization of all women,  the Joeyband is rapidly changing the standard of care for families and hospitals around the world.”
But it was motherhood, and the challenges that women face as a result of it, that drives the team to help others every day. As a new mom and entrepreneur, Hayley says e-commerce helped make it all come together.
“E-commerce makes things accessible for new moms – getting out of the house when you’re nine months pregnant and uncomfortable, or with a newborn can be daunting. E-commerce brings business opportunities to you and the best part is, you can shop in your pyjamas.
Stories like these are what inspires PayPal every day to champion women entrepreneurship and create business solutions that will help ease some of the challenges that life can bring.
This International Women’s Day, we salute all of you who are doing your part in making ‘Balance for Better’ a reality.

Sandie Benitah, Manager of Communications, PayPal Canada

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