Shannon Pestun: Turning Women Into Powerful Entrepreneurs

Small Business Canada

Shannon Pestun worked in the business banking industry and supported entrepreneurs for a decade. During her career, she started seeing a gender gap in the financial system, realized she was the only woman banker on the team, and noticed that she didn’t have any women as business clients. 

These observations made her understand the enormous opportunity to close the existing entrepreneurial gender gap.

Initiatives to Empower Women

The general attitude of society towards women has an impact on their financial confidence and discourages them from taking risks in business. For Indigenous women, along with the gender disparity, there is added historical discrimination, which heightens their challenges. This situation makes them ineligible for loans from mainstream financial institutions because they have poor credit, limited access to funds for equity, and no assets to put up as collateral.

Viewing their condition from a historical perspective, colonization has led to a patrilineal mindset from a matrilineal tradition, which has reduced the economic power and erased the leadership roles that Indigenous women once held. Even when the pandemic struck, the women entrepreneurs suffered more due to their smaller businesses, younger age and undercapitalized situations.  

Realizing women entrepreneurs’ generational and current barriers and wanting to bring a change in this situation, Shannon left her bank job to establish Pestun Consulting. The focus of the consulting agency was to assist women directly with their businesses and help government and private organizations develop programs advantageous to female entrepreneurs, thereby contributing to the entire entrepreneurship ecosystem. 

In 2020, Shannon co-founded The Finance Cafe as her second business, which provides an online curriculum focusing on skills around financial literacy and addresses attitudinal barriers around finances, risk, and debt. 

Her third venture was Gifting Circle Bursary for Indigenous Women in Entrepreneurship, which works towards supporting Indigenous women who are interested in pursuing entrepreneurship at her alma mater, Mount Royal University in Alberta.

Taking Up Responsibilities 

Shannon Pestun is a proud Métis woman, entrepreneur, and Senior Adviser, Business and Finance for the Women’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub. A resident of Calgary, Alberta, Treaty 7, she graduated from the University of Lethbridge with a bachelor’s degree in management and a diploma in Marketing from Mount Royal University.

Shannon is an active contributor and volunteer. She has taken the responsibilities of being Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization (WEDO), a member of the Board of Governors at Mount Royal University, and a board member at NPower Canada.

She is the senior advisor to the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH), established to strengthen the ecosystem supporting diverse women entrepreneurs as part of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy. 

WEKH is a part of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy of the Government of Canada, which aims to expand the availability of capital, talent, networks, and knowledge for women. It comprises ten regional hubs and a network of over 250 organizations, reaching over 100,000 women entrepreneurs.

Through her initiatives at WEKH, Shannon is leading WEKH’s work mapping Canada’s financial ecosystem and building programming that increases women’s access to financial, social, and entrepreneurial capital.

Fearless Leader 

Shannon Pestun is passionate about assisting women along their entrepreneurial journeys by strongly identifying with her Métis heritage and striving to be a role model for other Indigenous women.

She has created innovative funding models and solutions that challenge the status quo and is a trusted voice on women’s entrepreneurship for educators, government, industry and the media. 

She has been recognized for her work as one of the first women in the country to lead a women’s banking strategy and for her commitment to advancing women’s entrepreneurship. In 2007 she was nominated for the Canadian Women in Communications “Mentor of the Year” award for creating a mentorship program for women in communications. In 2019, she was one of seven women appointed to serve on Canada’s women’s entrepreneurship strategy expert panel. 

In 2018, she was recognized as a SHEInnovator by SHEInnovates Alberta, a pilot chapter for UN Women. She also became a finalist for the 2019 Diversity Ambassador of the Year award by Women in Finance Canada.

In addition to being a member of the President’s advisory council on equity, diversity, and inclusion, she is an experienced businesswoman and a fearless leader who breaks down barriers to promote a sustainable and inclusive economy.

Women entrepreneurs must explore the world of entrepreneurship and find the institutions that help them thrive. To read more about these topics, subscribe to Indigenous SME Business Magazine and for the latest updates, check our Twitter page @IndigenousSme.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts
Privacy Preferences
When you visit our website, it may store information through your browser from specific services, usually in form of cookies. Here you can change your privacy preferences. Please note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our website and the services we offer.