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Helping Women Turn Food Skills into Businesses

Press Release

August 3, 2023

A pilot project is helping women, especially newcomers to Nova Scotia, turn their cooking skills into successful local food businesses.

The specialized program in cooking entrepreneurship (SPICE) helps women learn how to develop a business plan and follow regulations for running a food business.

“This program is an excellent example of the innovation that helps our agriculture and agri-food sector grow and thrive,” said Greg Morrow, Minister of Agriculture. “These new, local-food businesses bring more diversity, get more healthy and local food on Nova Scotians’ plates and help create financial stability for women and their families who are doing something they love. We’re proud to support this important work.”

The Centre for Women in Business at Mount Saint Vincent University runs the program, which had its first graduates in the spring. Each eight-week session can train up to 10 women. There is no cost for participants, and they get ongoing support for up to a year.

The Department of Agriculture provided $5,000 for the program, and $100,000 to help participants buy equipment for their businesses.


I am so pleased to see SPICE empowering under-recognized communities of women as they embark on their entrepreneurial journey. The Government of Canada, through ACOA, is proud to support this program, so more women can access the resources they need to move their businesses forward – strengthening their communities and contributing to the rich culinary offerings of this province and the region.
– Lena Metlege Diab, Member of Parliament for Halifax West, on behalf of Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)

After finishing the program, I gained a lot of confidence to grow my business because of the knowledge, financial support, hands-on experience, and one-on-one consultations with the experts that we got through the SPICE program.
– Criselda Cagoy, graduate of first program cohort

When we witness a SPICE participant having a sell-out vending weekend, being featured in the community, growing their customer base and participating in major food business opportunities, we know it’s a successful program. We are pleased to be working in partnership with Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture.
– Natalie Frederick-Wilson, Director, Specialized Program in Cooking Entrepreneurship, Mount Saint Vincent University

Quick Facts:

  • the first cohort of program participants graduated May 31; fall registration is opening soon
  • the program is open to all women, but priority is given to African Nova Scotian, Indigenous and immigrant women
  • other government partners include Perennia, the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board and Invest Nova Scotia
  • ACOA supports the Centre for Women in Business to deliver business management programming to female business owners to help them reach their full potential as entrepreneurs through exposure, connections and learning

Additional Resources:

More information about the program is available at:

Department of Agriculture on Twitter:


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