Minister Ng announces funding for women’s entrepreneurship

News release

The WES Ecosystem Fund will support women-owned and women-led businesses

September 28, 2018 – Toronto, Ontario

The full and equal participation of women in the economy is essential to Canada’s competitiveness because when women succeed, everyone succeeds.

That’s why in Budget 2018, the federal government launched the first ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a $2-billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned and women-led businesses by 2025.

Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, and the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women, who were joined by women entrepreneurs and leaders, announced the WES Ecosystem Fund and participated in a panel on women’s entrepreneurship.

The up to $85-million investment will help organizations address the barriers and challenges that women entrepreneurs face and deliver improved support and programs for women-owned and -led businesses.

The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy complements Government of Canada efforts to advance gender equality through addressing pay equity, introducing more affordable childcare and putting an end to gender-based violence. 


“Our government believes that women’s economic empowerment is not just the right thing to do; it’s good for the bottom line. That’s why we launched the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a strategy that seeks to double the number of women-owned and women-led businesses by increasing their access to financing, networks and advice. It’s a smart investment with an economic and social return. I’m thrilled that the WES Ecosystem Fund will help foster women entrepreneurship from coast to coast to coast.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

“When we invest in women, we strengthen the economy for everyone. That is what our government is doing with the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy and the significant investment announced today during Gender Equality Week. By supporting women in business, we are growing our middle class and creating a thriving economy that benefits our sons and daughters. And we have a $150 billion reason to do this well because that’s what we’ll add to our GDP in less than a decade if we successfully take steps to advance equality, such as boosting women’s participation in the workforce.”
– The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women

Quick facts

  • The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) will help women start and grow their businesses by improving access to financing, talent, networks and expertise through an investment of nearly $2 billion.

  • The strategy will help our government achieve its goal of doubling the number of majority women-owned businesses by 2025.

  • WES programs complement our government’s broader initiatives to help women, including measures on pay equity, more flexible parental leave and more affordable childcare.

  • Advancing gender equality has the potential to add $150 billion in incremental GDP to the Canadian economy by 2026.

  • Fewer than 16% of SMEs in Canada are majority women-owned.

  • Only 8.4% of majority women-owned SMEs export, compared to 12.8% of majority male-owned SMEs.

  • The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Canada 2015/16 Report on Women’s Entrepreneurship indicated that in 2016 Canada had the highest percentage of women participating in early-stage activity (13.3%) and the fifth highest in terms of female ownership of established businesses among comparable innovation-based economies.

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Mallory Clyne
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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