Innovation Guelph to expand The Rhyze Project for young women

March 9 (Guelph, ON) – Innovation Guelph announced an expansion of The Rhyze Project, the organization’s entrepreneurship program for women, at its 5th annual International Women’s Day celebration last night.

With financial support from The Cowan Foundation, Rhyze on the Road will equip young women in Guelph-Wellington with the core skills and confidence needed to successfully navigate life. The program builds on the success of The Rhyze Academy, a nine-month educational program for women entrepreneurs that uses a holistic approach to integrate business and financial skills with work-life wellbeing.

Leon Punambolam, AVP Digital & Industry Leader, Technology Sector, Cowan Insurance Group, announced The Cowan Foundation will provide a $30,000 grant to implement Rhyze on the Road .

“The Cowan Foundation is pleased to support the creation of this program that will take the Rhyze Project model and roll it out to young women in order to teach them the soft skills necessary to handle the trials and tribulations of everyday living; all the while supporting and reinforcing self confidence in both themselves and how they deal with others”, explained Punambolam. “With an ultimate goal of creating future entrepreneurs in a group of women who might not otherwise have this opportunity, Innovation Guelph is once again thinking of creative ways to positively impact our community."

Set to pilot in summer 2017, Rhyze on the Road will engage two cohorts of girls (ages 11-13, and 14-17) and will share the Rhyze Academy’s key lessons on life skills development – such as negotiation skills, financial literacy and confidence – in a modified, youth-friendly format. Rhyze on the Road will be delivered in neighbourhoods across Guelph through the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition , and communities across Wellington County through various youth advocacy programs.

“We are excited and honoured to partner with Innovation Guelph to help bring their amazing Rhyze Project out into the community,” shares Brendan Johnson, Executive Director, Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition. “Rhyze on the Road will empower the next wave of women leaders and entrepreneurs.”

The Cowan Foundation grant will make it possible to ensure the program is free for all participants , with financial support for transportation, course materials, and any other barrier that may prevent their participation.   
“We are beyond grateful for not only the partnership and financial support of The Cowan Foundation in the expansion of The Rhyze Project, but their incredible commitment to community investment,” says Kristel Manes, Director of Operations, Innovation Guelph and The Rhyze Project. “Based on the transformative learning experiences of our current Rhyze Academy participants, and with the insight and collaboration of the Guelph Neighbourhood Support Coalition, we’re confident Rhyze on the Road is going to support the success of young women in our region, and develop the next generation of women entrepreneurs.”

Complete Rhyze on the Road program information and registration details will be announced later this spring. To learn more about The Rhyze Project, visit


About Innovation Guelph

Innovation Guelph is working to build prosperity for community wellbeing by providing mentorship and business support programs and services to help
innovative enterprises start, grow and thrive. Through our suite of novel business acceleration programs, we help startups and small- and medium-sized enterprises from across southern Ontario that want to bring new ideas to market, solve business challenges and maximize opportunities.

We also serve as a one-stop point of access to Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) programs and resources. In this way, we fuel an innovation ecosystem of entrepreneurs, business leaders, researchers, investors and community partners to drive economic growth, support environmental sustainability and enhance the quality of life for everyone in our region.


About The Rhyze Project
The Rhyze Project is a collaborative project led by Innovation Guelph that cultivates women’s entrepreneurial spirit in Guelph and Wellington County. Since March 2014, The Rhyze Project has helped to grow local dialogue on women’s entrepreneurship, economic empowerment, and institutionalized and systemic barriers to women’s career success. Two programs have emerged from the project, including the Rhyze Award, which provides funding
and mentorship for women entrepreneurs to build and grow businesses, and the Rhyze Academy, a one-of-kind, nine-month educational program developed to support women entrepreneurs as they connect the dots between business skills, financial know-how and work-life integration. To learn more about the program visit


About The Cowan Foundation

The Cowan Foundation was started in 1995 in honour of Frank Cowan, the founder of Frank Cowan Company and Cowan Insurance Group. The Foundation is sustained by the ongoing success of the Princeton Holdings group of companies including Cowan Insurance Group (and its subsidiaries: The Williamson Group, Millennium CreditRisk Management, Wentworth Financial Services and Cowan Financial Solutions), Frank Cowan Company, The Guarantee Company of North America and Cowan Asset Management. Together they provide insurance and risk management products and services for individuals, businesses, organizations and public entities as well as assist employers with their group benefits, retirement and health and disability management plans. The goal of The Cowan Foundation is to make a positive difference in the lives of Canadians and the broader well-being of our communities. Learn more at


Media Contacts
Kristel Manes
Director of Operations
Innovation Guelph & The Rhyze Project

Lynne Short
Director, Communications & Community Relations
The Cowan Foundation/Princeton Holdings Limited
(519) 650-6363 ext. 31608