Hill Times Women Entrepreneurs Event

Speech

Speaking Points

The Honourable Bardish Chagger, PC, MP
Minister of Small Business and Tourism

Ottawa, Ontario

May 10, 2016

Check Against Delivery


Good morning, everyone. Thank you, Ally, for that kind introduction. And thank you to the Hill Times for hosting us today.

Events like this one are my favourite part of the job. Getting to know women business leaders like our upcoming panelists and hearing how government can help are what get me going when I wake up every morning.

In a few minutes, we are going to discuss the role of women in growing the economy through entrepreneurship. All of the panelists have diverse backgrounds and experiences and also have some important things in common: they are accomplished businesswomen and are inspirational leaders.

In my role as minister of Small Business, I hope to channel this leadership—especially when it comes to women entrepreneurs.

A huge part of my job is helping create the conditions for our small business leaders to succeed. We know these companies are key to economic growth and crucial to Canada's long-term prosperity. That's why our government is committed to advancing an innovation agenda that will support innovative and growth-oriented businesses in reaching their potential.

In Budget 2016, our government announced $800 million over four years to support innovation networks and clusters to encourage start-ups and help businesses become successful. We will work with the private sector to generate greater value from public investments and encourage growth.

We are also looking at ways to support small businesses that want to export. So there is a lot on the go for our awesome businesspeople—men and women alike.

Let me share a few statistics about women entrepreneurs in this country:

  • It is estimated that more than 1.5 million Canadians are employed at women-owned businesses.
  • The total contribution of majority-owned women's businesses to our economy is upward of $148 billion per year.
  • And each year, more and more women are choosing self-employment.

Some really impressive facts there. But I don't need to tell anyone in this room that women face challenges: although the gap between male and female participation in the workforce continues to narrow, our rate still trails. And, although it's shrinking, there still exists a gender wage gap and under-representation in leadership positions.

So we have to celebrate the successes and also acknowledge the challenges. And we have to work together to help women entrepreneurs overcome them.

Among other obstacles, lack of financial literacy has been identified as a barrier to SME growth.

Your level of financial literacy affects your quality of life significantly. It affects your ability to provide for yourself and family. And it affects your contribution to your community.

It is important that we increase the financial literacy of women and girls so that they can succeed in the business world. For entrepreneurs, financial literacy helps them leverage other people's money for the business to generate sales and profits.

I encourage you, as leaders in the community, to promote the importance of financial literacy, especially to girls, who will form the next generation of businesswomen. It may sound simple – and it is. It is also something that we can control and that we can improve, to the benefit of our entire economy.

Financial literacy plays a big role in empowering young girls. Feeling confident in making their own decisions about how they spend, save or invest their money can go a long way. It helps them better position themselves for when they enter the business world.

On that note, I'd like to wrap up and get our panelists involved.

I look forward to continued partnerships between the Government of Canada and organizations like the Hill Times in exploring important business issues across our great country.

Thank you again for the invitation, and I wish you all nothing but continued success.

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