OTTAWA, ON, March 8, 2023 /CNW/ – Today, to mark International Women’s Day 2023, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, announced the recipients of funding under the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES).
This nearly $7 billion initiative is helping remove systemic barriers women face in accessing the financing, resources and networks they need to start up, scale up and reach international markets:
- eight new projects approved for $25 million in funding through round 1 of the WES Ecosystem Fund
- fifteen organizations selected for $40 million in funding to deliver round 2 of the WES Ecosystem Fund
- five organizations approved for $15 million in funding to deliver the Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative
The eight approved projects under round 1 of the Ecosystem Fund will provide entrepreneurship training, business acceleration support, networking and mentorship opportunities to help diverse and underserved women across the country reach their business goals.
The recipients of funding under round 2 of the WES Ecosystem Fund will focus on supporting women entrepreneurs in their areas of strength—such as the care economy and the retail and service sectors—as well as providing coverage in rural and remote regions and the north.
Since its launch, the WES Ecosystem Fund has helped more than 10,000 women start new businesses and more than 12,000 women grow their existing ones.
Challenges also exist in accessing capital. Globally, women-led startups received just 2.3% of venture capital funding in 2020. Women are also under-represented among equity investors, representing only 15.2% of Canadian venture capital partners and 16.7% of Canadian angel investors.
The funding recipients will develop projects that help women access venture capital funding, increase the representation of women in the venture capital industry and ensure that the venture capital industry is sensitive to gender and potential unconscious bias.
These initiatives build on the historic investments the government has made to support women since 2015, including legislating pay equity, enhancing the Canada Child Benefit, providing special funding to support women entrepreneurs during the pandemic, establishing agreements across the country for provinces and territories to provide $10-a-day childcare, and committing over $530 million for a National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence.
“This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the incredible talent and achievements of women and the concrete action our government is taking to make sure every woman counts. Time and again, Canadian women have proven themselves to be hard-working and dedicated entrepreneurs, yet many still face barriers to achieving their entrepreneurship dreams. Today’s announcement marks another big step toward ending gender bias and helping women from all walks of life bring their talents and skills to market for the benefit of all Canadians.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
- The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) is a nearly $7 billion investment that includes:
- the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, which is enabling existing women-focused loan programs to provide additional affordable microloans to women entrepreneurs;
- the Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative, which seeks to broaden access to funding and build a more inclusive venture capital environment for Canadian women;
- the WES Ecosystem Fund, which is helping remove barriers to the support networks and deliver the resources that women entrepreneurs need to start up, scale up and access new markets; and
- the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which has brought together 10 regional hubs, over 300 organizations and thousands of women entrepreneurs to create a more inclusive and supportive environment to grow women’s entrepreneurship in Canada.
- The government is also investing in removing systemic barriers faced by diverse entrepreneurs through programs like the Black Entrepreneurship Program.
- To ensure women have equal access to the benefits and opportunities arising from international investment, Canada is taking an inclusive approach to trade by integrating gender-related provisions in all its free trade agreements. The government has also co-signed the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement.