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The Town of Fogo - Supporting Women in Business

Town of Fogo Island

The Town of Fogo Island was created when a number of small towns amalgamated in 2011 for economic growth and to provide improved governance, services, and infrastructure to the island’s residents. With a population of approximately two thousand year-round residents, the municipality of Fogo Island is made of 11 communities including Stag Harbour, Seldom, Little Seldom, Deep Bay, Island Harbour, Fogo Island Central, Fogo, Shoal Bay, Barr’d Islands, Joe Batt’s Arm, and Tilting. Traditionally, the crab, shrimp, and cod fishery have acted as the primary economic driver on the island; however, with the opening of the Fogo Island Inn in 2013, international tourism has also emerged as a key economic driver.

In early 2023, the Town of Fogo Island launched its first economic development strategy and vision to secure a resilient and sustainable economic future. Because of the unpredictability of the fishing industry and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the plan focuses on the further economic diversification of the economy, with small business development as one of its primary strategic areas. Rural entrepreneurs face unique challenges in business, including access to resources, markets and, on Fogo Island, transportation. The plan outlines how to tap into the present entrepreneurial energy to engage small business owners and provides the resources to help grow existing businesses and identify new unique business opportunities on Fogo Island.

Women in business or interested in starting a business were identified as playing a key role in this area. Therefore, the Town of Fogo Island’s Economic Development Officer and Special Projects Coordinator, Cheryl Gardner, pursued NLOWE to determine what supports it could provide to support, encourage, and engage women in business. As a result, the Town of Fogo Island invited NLOWE’s Regional Business Advisors Lindsay Mercer (Start-Up) and Betsy Saunders (Growth) to connect with the community and provide business supports and resources. The Town of Fogo Island worked with the NLOWE Advisors to curate a two-day program designed to foster engagement, mentorship, and meaningful connections. This included two NLOWE information sessions in which NLOWE Advisors explained all the programs and services that are available for women in business or interested in starting a business. An evening event provided a networking opportunity, highlighted the island’s women-in-business trailblazers Melissa Hearn and Diane Strickland, and included a fireside chat with entrepreneurs Tara Kinden, owner of The Witch and The Wick, and Kim Holmes and Kayla Shea, owners of Escape by the Sea. NLOWE closed their time on Fogo Island with a three-hour business training session that focused on business planning and marketing, and a business-skills training session.

The outcome of the NLOWE engagement series has surpassed the expectations of both the Town and the women who participated in the sessions. Cheryl Gardner said, “The NLOWE activities have empowered women to start to explore their new business and business expansion ideas; this relationship has sparked the start of something very exciting in our community. Finding a shared vision with NLOWE will support our economic vision and be one of the keys to our vision for business growth.”

Written by: The Town of Fogo


Fogo Island Saltfire Pottery, Barr’d Islands, Fogo Island (Fraser Carpenter)

"Before the two-day presentation was through, I was inspired by Betsy and Lindsey to join NLOWE and gain access to a supportive network of female entrepreneurs. I am keen to take advantage of the training programs offered and to enable my sales team to join me in these studies to help bring success to our emerging export business of designing and creating beautiful pottery on Fogo Island"

Island Massage Therapy, Joe Batt’s Arm, Fogo Island (Melissa Hearn)

"The encouragement and support I received during the recent NLOWE sessions have been invaluable! I am thrilled they came out to visit the vibrant group of women entrepreneurs we have on our island. It is so exciting as a business owner to now be a part of NLOWE and to grow my connections and take my business to the next level!"

Sarah Fulford, owner Fogo Clay Studio

"I felt that Betsy and Lindsay provided a very supportive environment during their two days here. I came away from the experience feeling more confident in my ability as a business owner."

PEGGY WHITE, owner Peggy White Guitars

"Betsy and Lindsay were both inspirational during their NLOWE workshops here on Fogo Island. I left there feeling excited about the possibilities in expanding my business. I look forward to tapping into the wealth of knowledge within the organization to help support me as a business owner”

TARA KINDEN, owner Tara Kinden Co.

“Having Betsy & Lindsay share their time and resources on Fogo Island has been such a lovely reminder of the power of community. I joined NLOWE in a heartbeat because I recognized the need for in person connection to other female entrepreneurs. It was such a gift and already the connections I've made with the other women has been invaluable. Thank you so much ladies.”

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