Minister Bibeau announces Canadian champion to help empower women entrepreneurs in developing countries

News release

June 12, 2018 - Montréal, Quebec - Global Affairs Canada

Canada believes economic growth that works for everyone cannot be achieved without the full and equal participation of women. Yet women entrepreneurs in developing countries lack access to capital and face discriminatory laws that prevent them from growing their businesses. To address these challenges, Canada is committed to supporting innovative financial services that advance gender equality and empower women to create jobs and build economies that work for everyone.

The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, today announced that Danièle Henkel has been named a leadership champion of the Women’s Enterprise Leadership Group to assist the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) in supporting women entrepreneurs in developing countries.

We-Fi, led by the World Bank, aims to unleash the potential of women entrepreneurs by tackling persistent barriers faced by women-led small and medium-sized enterprises, with a particular focus on low-income and fragile countries. Henkel will serve alongside other private- and public-sector women leaders in advocating for women’s economic empowerment, highlighting innovative solutions for women entrepreneurs and mobilizing international support to help women business owners reach their full potential. Henkel was nominated for the role by Global Affairs Canada and was invited to join the Women’s Enterprise Leadership Group by Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group.

Originally from Morocco, Henkel is a very successful self-made businesswoman, who has made a significant impact on Quebec’s and women’s entrepreneurial development. Having faced numerous professional and personal challenges in the past (uprooting, immigration and emancipation), she has inspired many woman entrepreneurs to persevere despite the obstacles they faced.

Henkel is an inspiration to women entrepreneurs, and her experience, networks and commitment to women in business make her uniquely placed to mobilize global support for women’s economic empowerment in developing countries. 

Canada’s support of We-Fi is in line with Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, which aims to increase support for women entrepreneurs and inclusive growth in developing countries. Women entrepreneurs play key roles in ensuring the resilience of their families. We-Fi will help women in developing countries create jobs, build economies that work for everyone and help ensure women have a real and fair chance at success.


“I congratulate Danièle Henkel on her appointment as a champion of women’s economic empowerment in developing countries. We know that we all benefit when women fully participate in our economies. Advancing gender equality and empowering women to lead and manage their own businesses will help raise their families and communities out of poverty. I am excited to see how We-Fi will support their leadership, help remove the barriers and, as a result, transform their lives.”

- Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

Quick facts

  • We-Fi was launched at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2017 with the financial backing of 14 governments, including Canada’s.

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada’s contribution of $20 million to We-Fi to provide financial support, training and networks to women-owned and -led small and medium-sized enterprises in developing countries.

  • Gender equality is a fundamental human right and a top priority for the G7 during Canada’s presidency. Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls are critical to building peace, reducing poverty, growing economies and achieving sustainability.

  • G7 development and finance ministers, with central bank governors, met on the theme of investing in growth that works for everyone, which included discussions on advancing women’s economic empowerment, from May 31 to June 2, 2018, in Whistler, British Columbia.

Associated links


Justine Lesage
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of International Development and La Francophonie

Media Relations Office
Global Affairs Canada
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