As the Government of Canada works to strengthen our economy following the COVID 19 pandemic, it is more important than ever that small and medium-sized enterprises, especially those led by women, receive support to ensure a just and balanced recovery.
Recently, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, announced a new call for proposals for projects under the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund, a key initiative of the $6 billion Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). She was joined at the announcement by Andy Fillmore, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and Member of Parliament for Halifax.
To date, the WES Ecosystem Fund has invested $100 million in 52 projects. These projects are helping close service gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for women, particularly in areas such as mentorship, networking and skills development. In 2020 and 2021, the Ecosystem Fund helped over 5,000 women start a new business and over 7,000 women grow their existing business.
Under this call for proposals, $40 million is available for projects that deliver business supports for women entrepreneurs and contribute to their business development and growth. To be considered, projects must be led by non-profit organizations and be national or multi-regional in scope. Priority will be given to projects focused on sectors and areas of strength for women entrepreneurs (including in the care economy, and the retail and service sectors), as well as projects focused on providing services to women entrepreneurs in rural, remote and northern areas of the country.
Organizations that have previously received WES ecosystem funding and meet the current eligibility requirements are encouraged to apply.
This new support builds on the historic investments the government has made to support women since 2015, including integrating gender-based analysis into the work of government, legislating pay equity, enhancing the Canada Child Benefit, providing special funding to support women entrepreneurs during the pandemic, and working to make Canada-wide early learning and child care a reality through a $30 billion investment announced in Budget 2021.
“Women are powerhouse entrepreneurs and business owners, and supporting them is not only the right thing to do but also the smart thing to do for our economy. Our government is committed to removing systemic barriers and empowering women entrepreneurs and business owners so they can grow, expand and create more jobs in communities across Canada. With the additional $40 million investment in this second phase of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund, we are continuing our work to level the playing field and drive a strong, inclusive and sustainable economic recovery.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
- The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a more than $6 billion investment, includes:
- 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;
- the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, a new national fund that provides affordable microloans to women entrepreneurs; 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, including through 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—a stand-alone initiative open to other economies to join.