Tracy Folorunsho-Barry Is breaking boundaries in North America, lifting other women and helping them find their paths in life. The Nigerian-born amazon is the founder of GROW Women Leaders and GROW Foundation. During her migration to Canada from Nigeria, she faced struggles with integrating into the country and lacked the proper guidance and support she needed as an immigrant.
Barry also found that her struggles were common for other immigrant women in Canada and decided to take action after freeing herself from a limited lifestyle. She took the initiative to start helping other women, especially immigrants, reach their full potential and access new opportunities regarding their careers. Since then, she has dedicated her career to helping thousands of women, especially immigrants, get hired and advance their careers.
In 2017, under GROW Foundation, she launched Project150: Accomplished Immigrant Women in Canada and the Speak Out Women series where she began gathering stories from more than 200 immigrant women across Canada who have overcome adversity to achieve success in their careers and lives. They shared their stories and expressed that they wished they had known about the knowledge, resources and guidance available for them to succeed in Canada.
She collated these stories and published the book; Untold Stories of Immigrant Women in Canada. Later in 2018, Barry founded GROW Women Leaders (GROW), a career leadership development and advancement platform designed to help women get hired and advance their careers.
In 2021, she opened GROW space, a socially conscious 7000sq ft facility that houses Nurture café, lounge, co-working space and more. For her contributions and community involvement, she has been honoured with various awards and recognitions such as; Top 100 Black Women to Watch In Canada, Top 6 Immigrant Women of Inspiration, and a notable recognition by Mayor Don Iveson and the City of Edmonton in 2020.
She shares her inspiring story with Esther Ijewere in this interview.
Growing up, I loved helping people as it came to me naturally, even though I had no idea what I would do when I grew up, I guess it has played a major part in who I am today. For example, my mother had a grocery store, and through that grocery store, I was able to help people who I thought were in need within the community. I think staying true to oneself has a way of showing up in one’s career path.
Inspiration Behind Grow Women Leaders
Coming to Canada as an immigrant and not having guidance, I didn’t know anyone. I had to go through the integration process on my own. The name came about when I began Project150: Accomplished Immigrant Women in Canada and the Speak Out Women series as Gradual Rising of Women (G.R.O.W.), where I began gathering stories from more than 200 immigrant women across Canada who have overcome adversity to achieve success in their careers and lives.
They shared their stories and expressed that they wished they had known about the knowledge, resources and guidance available for them to succeed. While collecting their stories of resilience, I realized the wealth of knowledge these women possessed and the valuable insights that they could share with other immigrant women and their communities. Thus, the book, Untold Stories of Immigrant Women in Canada was published. I wanted to inspire other women like me, and from there it grew bigger. While hearing others talk about their stories, it changed my life and I knew it was something much bigger I began GROW Women Leaders and I had to figure out a way to help more women to become women leaders as it is their careers that set them apart.
It is the idea of helping women and empowering women. But in this case, I’m doing it by helping women connect to companies. I want to grow people and build them up to become women leaders.
The Journey So Far
No one prepares you for the entrepreneurship journey. It hasn’t been easy and still isn’t easy but the positive impact my work has on others makes it all worth it.
Being At Forefront Of Helping Immigrant Women In Canada Find Their Voice And Purpose, And Project 150
What started as a project has become so much more. I believe that if you have gone through challenges and you succeed, it is important to help others the way so that they don’t have to go through the same challenges that you have been through. It is the idea that I’ve gone through it and I want you to be able to succeed. This is the reason I do what I do today which has stemmed from Project150: Accomplished Immigrant Women in Canada and the Speak Out Women series through Gradual Rising of Women (G.R.O.W.), where I began gathering stories from more than 200 immigrant women across Canada who have overcome adversity to achieve success in their careers and lives. They shared their stories and expressed that they wished they had known about the knowledge, resources and guidance available for them to succeed. While collecting their stories of resilience, I realized the wealth of knowledge these women possessed and the valuable insights that they could share with other immigrant women and their communities. Thus, the book, Untold Stories of Immigrant Women in Canada was published.
Also Read: I Want Immigrant Women In Canada To Have A Voice
My Aspiration For Black Women In Canada, Especially New Immigrants Trying To Integrate Into Society
For those who are trying to integrate into society, it is knowing your worth. If you know yourself, other people can’t define you, I see that as a community of immigrant women. You may not know what you’d want to do but once you understand what your worth is, Canada will give you a space to do what you want to do. Canada has a lot of opportunities and the world is waiting for you. Follow your passion, and you will find your path. For every purpose, people are depending on it. I took an unconventional career path and I was able to help more than just my family, I helped my team, the women who use GROW’s services and more.
The GROW Space And Its Impact Since 2021
The GROW Space, is a socially conscious 7000sq ft facility that houses a Nurture café, lounge, co-working space and more. Nurture is more than a social lounge, we are a socially conscious in-house kitchen & cafe located within the GROW Space serving brunch, meal prep, catering, cocktails and more. Proceeds generated go back to supporting the women at GROW, supporting women, especially immigrants, to get hired and advance their careers. The impact that our space has had since 2021, it has been a space that is open for the public as well as our candidates to work and lounge in our space, while the Nurturers have access to amenities to help them develop and advance their career.
I experienced a lot of challenges, especially since I was doing something unconventional. I never knew that there were negative connotations behind the word ‘ambitious’ until I started pushing for my goals to build a company that helps others. Ambition can truly be a terrible, terrible thing because for a society that pushes women to do more, can also be the same to say that you’re doing too much! With that being said, I didn’t receive much support and I had to prove myself a lot especially since I was trying something from nothing. People usually support what they understand and unfortunately, for a creative like me, it takes time for others to understand your work before they support you.
Being Recognized As One Of The Top 25 Canadian Immigrants
To be recognized as one of Canada’s top 25 immigrants, is very exciting as it is a validation of my work and my journey to it.
Also Read: Hawking At Age 10 Made Me More Determined
One Thing I Wish I Could Do To Make The World A Better Place For Women, Especially Black Women
It’s what I’m doing right now, which is ensuring that everyone gets equitable employment, especially women. Although it is getting better, there is still a lot of work to be done for gender parity.
Being A Woman Of Rubies
I am a visionary. It is one thing to be a visionary, but then it can execute the vision.
To Young Women Who Aspire To Be Where I Am But Lack The Opportunity And Support
Keep pushing, push until something good happens. Your vision and idea are valid, stick to what you want.
Women Who Inspire Me And Why
Individuals who inspire me, are the everyday women who are usually unsung heroes that are constantly striving to create a better home, and build a better community and world at large. These women are the ones working in entry-level, mid-level, to senior-level jobs.
For Women Who Want To Join the GROW Community
GROW Women Leaders is a leadership development and advancement agency helping women get hired and advance their careers. It is FREE to join so SIGN UP NOW! Our digital talent platform is dedicated to helping women, especially immigrants, get connected to the workforce. We will connect you to our partner companies. Join us now! https://growwomenleaders.com/ See you on the inside where we all grow together.