Frequently Asked Questions
Is there a program designed for women on maternity leave or who are currently on EI?
Yes, Gateway is a program designed for women who are currently on EI; or have been in the last 3 years; or who have started maternity/parental benefits in the last 5 years. The Gateway program can help you create a business plan, and provides business counselling, on-going workshops, on-line training, financial assistance to qualified participants, networking opportunities, and access to a resource centre.
Is there a program that can help me turn my idea into a plan even if I’m not EI eligible?
Yes, the Making a Difference program offers business and employment development services to women at PARO Centre, or through PARO on Wheels throughout Northwestern Ontario. The program offers business counselling, weekly workshops, on-line workshops, access to financing, and tele-sessions.
Is there a program to help women who have already established their business?
Yes, the Northern Women in Business (NWIB) program is designed for women who are already in business and who need help with making their business more productive, efficient, and profitable. Also, we hope to help them make connections to new opportunities such as getting larger contracts from the MUSH and the Mining Sector. So if they need help with financing, marketing, exporting, franchising, staffing, need a mentor, or are just out of date, out of tune or out of balance, we are here to help. The NWIB program provides flexible advanced business workshops, and expert coaching. It provides an opportunity to access grants and loans and be supported by a PARO Peer Lending Circle in Northwestern and Northeastern Ontario. It provides resources and helps build your knowledge, skills, capacity, and confidence.
What is PARO Presents?
PARO Presents is a retail outlet located at 111 N. May St., that offers unique gift items. Operated by a group of enterprising women: entrepreneurs, artisans and PARO support staff, the store front presence provides Northern women with a retail location from which to launch and sell their products. It also serves as a venue for training, where women can learn customer service, merchandising, cash management, business machine operation and more. Stop in at PARO Presents today for a great shopping experience, or contact us about opportunities to retail your products or access retail sales training.
Do you have to register for PARO’s Glow & Grow networking events and is there a fee?
Glow & Grow events are held at PARO Centre every Wednesday from 9:30pm-1:15pm. Registration is not required if attending on site at PARO Centre, and there is no fee to attend these workshops. They are open to the public, and provide an opportunity to learn new skills and network with other women in business. If you can’t make it to PARO Centre or are out in the region, E-learning, and video conferencing, options allow you to fully participate without being in Thunder Bay! Contact PARO at or call 1.800.584.0252 to learn more and register.
How can I stay up to date with PARO events?
Subscribing to PARO’s weekly e- newsletter, the Glow & Grow, will keep you informed about the workshops and events hosted by PARO in Thunder Bay and other communities in the region. It also provides you with information and useful links on business development. You can subscribe by providing your email at the bottom of the page under 'Get Email Updates'. Also, you can always check up on PARO events by visiting the Events section of the PARO website.
Is it possible to advertise my business on the PARO website?
PARO Peer Lending Circles are self-selecting groups of 4-7 women who meet to approve grants and loans for their businesses, offer peer support, mentoring and networking. Circles can be formed across Northeast and Northwest Ontario and into the remote First Nations communities. Grants are available for eligible beneficiaries from $500 to $1000. This amazing women’s micro-loan program is the only bank in Canada where you can borrow $1000 and only pay back $500, and then if you pay that back, get $2000 and only pay back $1000. Then, you graduate to the Stage three and can borrow $3000, followed by Stage four when you can borrow $5000. Contact Kathy at or call 1-800-584-0252 or 807-625-0328 to find out more.