Skip to content

Women and Girls: Working for women

Since the founding of PARO in 1995, Rosalind Lockyer has been a driving force in the push for women-owned businesses all over Ontario.
Roz Lockyer
Rosalind Lockyer, founder and CEO of PARO.

Rosalind Lockyer, founder and CEO of PARO; is no stranger to the challenges women face when breaking into an entrepreneurial venture. As the largest women’s peer-lending network in North America, Lockyer and her team are always moving for women, locally and regionally.

A social entrepreneur, Lockyer became aware of the systemic challenges women faced and wanted a solution that allowed them to become powerful in their role and provide them flexibility to become successful.

“I found that most situations that women found themselves in that were difficult, money in their pocket was the solution. Without money in their pocket, women couldn’t leave a bad situation. They couldn’t move out of a bad job, out of a bad marriage,” Lockyer says when discussing the need for a peer-lending network for women.

PARO became the structural support women could lean on.

An emotional enterprise

Lockyer doesn’t believe in describing the work she does for the community within PARO as work, it’s her life’s mission.

“I started thinking about women and what the challenges were early on; as I was going to university, as I was a teacher and an entrepreneur. I went through those stages and started having children and all of it started to add up and make sense that it wasn’t a challenge just for me as an individual but to all women,” she says when discussing the creation of PARO.

She felt she needed to build the foundation to support women and lend the hand they need for their entrepreneurial ambitions.

Men were always the deciding factor in most decision making in the past and Lockyer became aware of these systemic challenges affecting women in her life.

PARO was a way to articulate these challenges and battle them.

A motivating mission

As PARO celebrates its 27th year, Lockyer is confident about the growth she’s seen in the world for women to embark on business ventures while continuing to thrive in a caretaking role.

In a job you often have structures that make it difficult for women to follow through with their caring roles,” she says, “entrepreneurship provides flexibility to choose how they do their work.”

Prior to COVID-19 Lockyer and her team would drive around Ontario and into communities to provide the tools women need. Now, she says, they Zoom around Ontario. Although the process may differ, the end goal is still the same.

“We have setbacks every day, challenges in life, as any woman or entrepreneur would have. When we go to a community we’re not here to do what you do, we’re here to identify any gaps, any needs that you don’t cover under your program, we’re here to increase the support for women entrepreneurs.”

Successful and sustainable

Lockyer and her team at PARO have been providing a holistic and sustainable model for women to create a life that is empowering and flexible on their terms and with more than 170 circles throughout Ontario, this work continues to grow for women.

“PARO is not my work, PARO is my mission. As long as I have health I will be part of it in some way,” she beams.

Her mission and philosophy are more important than ever as women adapt to the changing times and are taking charge of their future and as PARO enters its 27th year, Lockyer is nowhere near finished.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks