Love not only brought Rose Fraser from the Philippines to Cape Breton, it also got her into the world of entrepreneurship.
Fraser is the owner and manager of Prince Street Auto Repair in Sydney.
“My husband William works offshore in the oil industry and is away a lot,” she said. “I’m doing it in hopes the business will succeed in hopes to bring enough income that in a few years my husband can retire from his job and stay home and help raise our children with me.
“Right now, I’m almost a single woman and I’m very sure a lot of Cape Breton women are in the same boat. He loves his job but loves his children more than anything.”
Eileen Lannon Oldford, the CEO of economic and business development organization, Business Cape Breton, said Fraser is part of a new trend they have seen over the past few years.
Lannon Oldford said 40 per cent of all businesses BCB has been involved with starting up in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality between April 1, 2013 and Feb. 28, 2018 have been with women, more than double the years prior.
“It’s a substantial increase,” she said. “Based on our experiences in the past there was no more than 15-20 per cent of the women coming in with business ideas and going into business. I think with the support of people wanting to carve out their own direction in life, entrepreneurship is being looked at as a very definite option,” Fraser said. She moved to Canada in 2010, after meeting William Fraser of Bras d’Or, in Singapore.
“We both worked in the oil and gas industry,” she said.
William was chief mechanic on an oil rig and at the time Rose was an occupational health and safety co-ordinator for an onshore company in Southeast Asia. Both travelled extensively but both companies had offices in Singapore. It was decided home would be in Cape Breton and they moved to Frenchvale.
“We were having kids and had to put down roots somewhere,” she said.
The couple purchased an old gas station at 500 Prince St. in Sydney. On April. 18, 2016, Rose opened her own business there, Prince Street Auto Repair.
She went through the BCB program, describing it as a huge asset in helping her get things off the ground.
“They were a big help, gave us training and connections.”
She started off her business as a garage but it has continued to grow to offer more services and is now an authorized motor vehicle inspection station for trailers and cars. As well, she now has her own dealership, offers financing for customers, warranties and caters to warranty work.
Rose Fraser said being in business is “wonderful.”
“There are a whole lot of changes you have to learn and to adapt what you do. You need to be able to do different things that’s attached to the business, you have to be dynamic.”
The business world allows her to venture into things she never did before, she added.
“It poses challenges and I like challenges. There’s always something new to offer.”
In the meantime, what does she love best about Cape Breton?
“The people,” she said. “They are kind, they have time to talk, are more sentimental and a bit slower-paced. Here you enjoy living rather than it all being about making money.”
Lannon Oldford feels women entrepreneurs are growing in numbers because they want to look at entrepreneurship as another career option.
“Women tend to be younger and more open to exploring what assistances are available to support their business venture idea,” she said.
“Most women start small, want to design their owncareer path; they are not focused on building an empire. We have found women entrepreneurs have become less risk-adverse, they tend to be more careful in their planning, they research deeper to allow for more evidence-based to substantiate their decision making.”
Lannon Oldford said an interesting fact they discovered is if their female clients are in a partnership with a male, the female takes the leadership role.
“If in a partnership we are seeing females own 51 to 100 per cent of the business.”
BCB says the majority of women they’ve dealt with going in business are in the health-care sector, professional services or tourism. A few are going in more non-tradition businesses such as manufacturing or automotive repair.
As well, said Lannon Oldford, women are finding the importance of a business plan when they go to lending institutions and seek partnership and access training and programs.
“Also, while at onetime women tended to stay with their current operation, that's not true today, many are adding to their business venture.”
BCB says, like their male counterparts, challenges they hear from businesswomen are rising business costs, long hours of work, maintaining a steady workload and access to a reliable workforce.
Business woman say that, in starting out, Business Cape Breton gave them the boost they needed.
“The service I have received from Business Cape Breton has been tremendous,” said Patricia Hillis, owner of Kreative Korners Party Rentals & Gifts.
“They work with you and move at your pace. There’s no pressure, just support. I’d recommend their services to anyone out there that needs help getting their business started.”