Minister Ng announces Women Entrepreneurship Strategy investments

News release

Government of Canada investing up to $19 million to support women entrepreneurs in Ontario                                                                            

August 22, 2019 – Toronto, Ontario

The Government of Canada is advancing women’s economic empowerment with the first ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a $2-billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.

Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, joined Julie Dzerowicz, Member of Parliament for Davenport, to announce an investment of up to $19 million in women entrepreneurs and organizations supporting women entrepreneurs in Ontario. This funding is administered through FedDev Ontario and FedNor.

Through the Women Entrepreneurship Fund (WEF), 74 women-owned or -led businesses will each receive an investment of up to $100,000 to help them grow their business and reach new export markets. The total investment in these entrepreneurs is up to $6,858,759. See list of recipients of WEF support.

In addition, Minister Ng announced an investment of up to $11,951,076 through the WES Ecosystem Fund (Regional Stream) in the following nine organizations or institutions for projects supporting women entrepreneurs:

  • Canadian Film Centre, located in Toronto, will receive up to $3,395,000 to deliver an accelerator program for 200 women-led companies in southern Ontario’s digital media ecosystem over four years.
  • Elizabeth Fry Society (Elizabeth Fry Toronto), located in Toronto, will receive up to $1,002,004 to initiate the second annual cohort of My Start-Up: Women’s Entrepreneurship Program, which helps marginalized women who may have struggled with mental health issues or had legal conflicts to launch their own viable businesses. The funding will also go toward the delivery of monthly education and support workshops for marginalized women who run small businesses.
  • Ontario East Economic Development Commission, located in Kingston, will receive up to $823,000 to launch, promote, deliver and evaluate the Women’s Virtual Entrepreneurship Incubator Pilot Project, which will focus specifically on Indigenous women, women in rural regions and recent immigrants who are starting a business.
  • PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise, located in Thunder Bay, will receive up to $1,433,031 to implement the Enterprising Indigenous Women project, which will build an ecosystem with partners to support Indigenous women in remote and rural communities in starting up and scaling up their businesses.
  • Tecumseh Community Development Corporation, located in Sarnia, will receive up to $337,000 to deliver the Pathway to Personal Success program, which will use a holistic approach to foster stronger economic growth and assist, equip and enable women entrepreneurs from diverse groups.
  • The Hamilton Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA Hamilton), located in Hamilton, will receive up to $1,015,641 to support women of diverse backgrounds from across southern Ontario with business training and coaching to successfully start up and grow their small business.
  • Wilfrid Laurier University, located in Waterloo, will receive up to $1,385,000 to use its incubator/accelerator space to offer support to women entrepreneurs at the early start-up stage and those looking to accelerate and scale their businesses, focusing on the non-tech sectors and women creating social enterprises.
  • Windsor Essex Economic Development Corporation, located in Windsor, will receive up to $692,000 to provide coordinated support to women entrepreneurs in the Windsor-Essex region to start and grow businesses in emerging technology sectors such as agri-food, automation, automotive and mobility.
  • York University, located in Toronto, will receive up to $1,868,400 to develop and deliver the Fempower program, which will support women entrepreneurs by providing business education and resources, female-centred advice and real solutions for overcoming barriers; by making introductions; and by opening doors to opportunities.

The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy complements the Government of Canada’s efforts to advance gender equality. These efforts include addressing pay equity, providing more affordable child care 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 businesses by increasing their access to financing, networks and advice. It’s a smart investment with an economic and social return.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

“The women entrepreneurs and business leaders of Toronto and Ontario make incredible contributions to our economy and communities every day. I’m proud to be part of a government that takes women’s economic empowerment seriously. From tackling pay equity to modernizing parental leave, this government is taking action on gender equality, and that’s good for Canada and good for Ontario because when women succeed, we all succeed.”
– Julie Dzerowicz, Member of Parliament for Davenport

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.

  • In Budget 2018, the WES Ecosystem Fund was allocated $85 million to help non-profit, third-party organizations deliver support for women entrepreneurs and address gaps in the ecosystem.

  • In Budget 2018, the Government of Canada allocated $20 million to the Women Entrepreneurship Fund. Following the call for applications held in fall 2018, over 3,000 applications were received and over 200 projects were funded. The Government is pleased to be able to support approximately 100 more projects by investing an additional $10 million in the Women Entrepreneurship Fund. With this additional investment, the Government is providing a total of $30 million to women-owned and ‑led businesses across Canada to grow their businesses and reach new markets.

  • WES complements the Government’s broader initiatives to advance gender equality. These initiatives include measures on pay equity, more flexible parental leave and more affordable child care.

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

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

  • Only 11.2% of majority women-owned SMEs export, compared to 12.2% 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.

  • Final funding is subject to negotiation of contribution agreements.

Associated links


Corinne Havard
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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