Government of Canada Launches Women Entrepreneurship Strategy

The Government of Canada launched the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) in 2018 to increase funding and action around women-owned and women-led businesses. This strategy aims to help women grow their businesses through increased access to financing, talent, networks, and mentorship.

The Benefits of a Women Entrepreneurship Strategy

Despite recent advances, gender inequality is an ongoing issue in the world of entrepreneurship. Only 17 percent of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada are owned by women. They face barriers to accessing capital, are less likely to seek debt and equity financing, and are more likely to be rejected or receive less money. 

The government promotes women’s economic empowerment by allocating almost $7 billion in investments and commitments to WES. This funding aims to address the specific challenges women entrepreneurs face in Canada and foster their success and growth in the business world. After all, women’s full and equal economic participation is essential to Canada’s prosperity.

Key Action Areas

The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy focuses on four key action areas to address women entrepreneurs’ challenges.

  1. Helping Women-Led Businesses Grow – Investment in areas such as mentoring, skill development, and networking helps businesses grow and increases participation in federal procurement and export.
  2. Increasing Access to Capital – Alongside partners, the government makes additional capital available to help companies grow and access new markets. 
  3. Improving Access to Federal Business Innovation Programming – Reforms in this area focus on improving the participation of underrepresented groups.
  4. Enhancing Access to Data and Knowledge – The government created a hub for women entrepreneurs to access information, data, and best practices.

WES Programs

WES Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative

The WES Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative has been created to address systemic barriers women face in accessing venture capital funding. It aims to strengthen and create a more inclusive venture capital environment for women, improve the representation of women in the Canadian venture capital industry, and reduce biases within it.

Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund

The Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund addresses the challenge many women entrepreneurs face in accessing capital. This program provides loans up to $50,000 to women entrepreneurs, especially start-ups, underrepresented groups, or sole proprietorships.

WES Ecosystem Fund

Through the WES Ecosystem Fund, the government aims to ensure women have access to business supports they may need to start or grow their businesses. This fund has previously supported not-for-profit organizations to address ecosystem gaps and provide business supports for women entrepreneurs.

Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub

The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) is a crucial source of information, data, and best practices for women entrepreneurs. The WEKH connects researchers, business support organizations, and key stakeholders to foster a more inclusive and supportive environment for women’s entrepreneurship in Canada.

Learn More

Find more resources and information on women’s entrepreneurship at WeBC’s page, Women Entrepreneurs Ecosystem, and BDC’s list of business partners for women entrepreneurs.

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