$7 billion in FUNDING TO SUPPORT Canadian women entrepreneurs!
The full and equal participation of women in the economy is not just the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do.
Studies show that by advancing gender equality and women's participation in the economy, Canada could add up to $150 billion in GDP. Only 17% of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are owned by women, and the Government of Canada is working to change that.
The government is advancing women's economic empowerment with the first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), representing nearly $7 billion in investments and commitments. WES aims to increase women-owned businesses' access to the financing, talent, networks and expertise they need to start up, scale up and access new markets.
WES Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative
The WES Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative will fund projects to strengthen and build a more inclusive venture capital environment for Canadian women.
Budget 2021 allocated a total of $15 million towards the WES Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative to support projects delivered by not-for-profit organizations that will increase Canadian women entrepreneurs' access to venture capital funding, contribute to increasing representation of women in the Canadian venture capital industry, and reduce biases in the Canadian venture capital industry.
Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund
The Loan Fund is providing loans of up to $50,000 to women business owners and entrepreneurs so they can start up, scale up and access new markets. Several organizations (listed below) selected to deliver the Fund are now accepting applications.
- The Women's Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC)
- The National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA)
- The Northumberland Business Development Assistance Corp
- Coralus, formerly SheEO
While progress has been made since the launch of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) in 2018, access to capital, particularly in smaller amounts, remains a significant barrier for many women entrepreneurs seeking to start or grow their businesses. To help address this barrier, the Government of Canada allocated $55 million in Budget 2021 for the creation of a new national microloans fund.
WES Ecosystem Fund
To date, the WES Ecosystem Fund has invested $100 million over five years to strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem and close gaps in service for women entrepreneurs.
In Budget 2021 an additional $65 million was provided to the WES Ecosystem Fund.
The first call of the WES Ecosystem Fund (2022) valued at $25 million, launched January 11, 2022 and closed March 15, 2022, focused on supporting not-for-profit organizations to strengthen capacity and address ecosystem gaps for diverse populations of women entrepreneurs. Recipients of 2018 funding were not eligible to apply.
The second call of the WES Ecosystem Fund (2022) (valued at $40 million), launched July 28, 2022 and closed September 26, 2022. This call focused on supporting not-for-profit organizations to provide business supports for women entrepreneurs and strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Canada. The funding prioritized projects in areas of strength for women, as well as projects providing services to women entrepreneurs in rural and remote areas or the North. Recipients of 2018 funding were eligible to apply.