Canada looking to double number of female entrepreneurs by 2025

Funding available for female-led businesses looking to grow

Women-led businesses account for 15.6 per cent of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Canada. This low percentage is compounded by female entrepreneurs being less likely to seek and obtain financing, with only 32 per cent looking to sources other than friends and family to help fund their businesses.

COVID-19 has dealt an additional blow to women looking to expand their companies, as SMEs have been most affected by the pandemic and women are more likely to be at the helm of smaller businesses. 62 per cent of female-led businesses were forced to lay off more than 80 per cent of their staff due to the pandemic, versus 45 per cent of businesses overall.

Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy has positioned the country as a leader when it comes to supporting the launch of female-led businesses, with a goal of doubling the number of female entrepreneurs by 2025. To encourage female entrepreneurs to seek external funding for innovation, capital expenditures, expansion, job creation, and more, federal, and provincial governments, as well as private funders, have launched several policies and programs centered around helping women finance, grow and scale their businesses as well as expend their networks.  

Fundingportal’s AI-driven tools help companies, including female entrepreneurs, find, apply for, and leverage available programs. Fundingportal mines more than 11,000 sources and $30 billion in funding, and some of the female-centric programs being tracked include:

Women’s Enterprise Initiative

This non-profit initiative has offices in each of the four western provinces (Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan) and provides business information and services (including business loans), advisory services and training options aimed at women business owners.

Femmessor – Financing for women-owned businesses

This program is aimed at Quebec-based female entrepreneurs who own at least 25 per cent of the shares of a business. It aids with projects relating to the start-up, expansion, consolidation, growth, or acquisition of a business.

Farm Credit Canada (FCC) Women Entrepreneur Program

This national program is centered around empowering women in agriculture, agri-business and agri-food. Through the Women Entrepreneur Program, FCC has dedicated $500 million over the next three years in lending, enhancing events and creating resources specifically for women entrepreneurs to start or grow their business.

Venture Capital. Women in Technology Venture Fund

The BDC Capital Women in Technology (WIT) Venture Fund is one of the world’s largest venture capital funds dedicated to investing in women-led technology companies and helping to build a robust ecosystem to support women in tech today and in the future.

With funding coming from various sources and new programs frequently being launched, it can be difficult to find, apply for and leverage available funding. Since many grants and incentives are disbursed on a first come, first served basis, it is critical to stay on top of program intake periods, criteria, and end dates. Incorporating available funding into overall project planning can help female-led organizations prioritize projects, and plan for growth and innovation initiatives that may have otherwise been put on hold.

Pandemic recovery and future scalability will require targeted investments and planning. Incorporating a funding strategy into those plans can be key to short-term growth and long-term sustainability.

Subscribe to Fundsearch for access to these and other programs available for female-led and other types of businesses.

Melanie Tabet

Melanie Tabet is chief marketing officer at Fundingportal. Her marketing and communications career spans nearly two decades, and includes leadership roles in software, travel and government funding organizations. In addition to driving strong marketing, branding and communications results, she has published numerous thought leadership articles on the topics of branding, customer experience, customer centricity, technology, and finance in industry magazines such as Forbes. She holds a degree in Commerce (Marketing) from Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business in Montreal, and is a passionate marketer, effective communicator, analytical thinker, and strong leader.

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