Expert panel to provide advice on increasing women entrepreneurs in Canada

News release

Panel made up of business leaders will identify gaps and opportunities to advance women entrepreneurs

March 5, 2019 – Ottawa, Ontario

There are over a million small and medium-sized businesses in Canada and fewer than 16% are women-owned. However, studies show that advancing women’s participation in the economy could add up to $150 billion to Canada’s GDP by 2026.

To advance women’s economic empowerment, the Government of Canada launched the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a $2-billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.

To support the government in achieving its goal, a diverse and talented Expert Panel on Women’s Entrepreneurship has been established to provide advice and identify opportunities and challenges for women entrepreneurs.

The panel is co-chaired by Laura McGee and Danièle Henkel, and its members include Shauna Harper, Shannon Pestun, Sharon Zohar, Dr. Virginia McGowan, and Maudeleine Myrthil. The panel will be supported by representatives from the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub and the Business Development Bank of Canada; by the Special Advisor on Scale Up to the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion; and by the work of the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders.


“I’m thrilled to announce the Expert Panel on Women’s Entrepreneurship. The members’ wealth of experience and commitment to advancing women in business will be invaluable to our government as we lead the way on doubling the amount of women entrepreneurs by 2025. Increasing women entrepreneurs is not just the right thing to do—it’s good for the bottom line.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

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 $2 billion.

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

  • WES programs complement the government’s broader initiatives to help women, including addressing pay equity and introducing 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.

Associated links


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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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