Minister Ng announces nearly $4.5 million to support Indigenous women entrepreneurs

News release

Government of Canada investing as part of its Women Entrepreneurship Strategy                                                                          

September 6, 2019 – Ottawa, 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, announced investments of nearly $4.5 million through the WES Ecosystem Fund in three organizations supporting Indigenous women entrepreneurs.

Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, serving Inuit Nunangat, will receive approximately $2 million to sustain and enhance existing networking and mentorship initiatives while identifying and addressing Inuit women’s key economic development issues and priorities.

National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association will receive up to $1.2 million to create tools and supports for Indigenous women entrepreneurs to build or grow a business, to enhance the capacity of Aboriginal Financial Institutions and to develop a proof of concept for an Indigenous women’s microfinance fund.

Native Women’s Association of Canada will receive up to $1.2 million to advise and connect entrepreneurs with appropriate services as well as develop an online platform for networking and accessing resources, including webinars, video resources and tools developed through the program.

In addition to the above investments, Minister Ng announced in June an additional $10 million to the Women Entrepreneurship Fund, with a quarter of these funds reserved for Indigenous women entrepreneurs. In total, this $30 million Fund will directly invest in over 300 businesses, providing up to $100,000 to help them innovate, grow and access new markets.

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. Indigenous women experience unique barriers in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Because of that, this strategy includes specific investments to support Indigenous women as they start businesses, scale up and access new markets. These are smart investments with an economic and social return.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

“Pauktuutit appreciates this opportunity to continue to support Inuit women in business and further the economic development of our communities, both within Inuit Nunangat and urban centres.”
– Rebecca Kudloo, President, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

“Entrepreneurship represents a promising pathway for Indigenous women to enrich their lives, strengthen their families and participate in the development of their communities. The investment announced today in support of NACCA’s Indigenous Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative will support our network of Aboriginal Financial Institutions to better serve the business aspirations of Indigenous women in Canada.”
– Shannin Metatawabin, CEO, National Aboriginal Capital Corporation Association (NACCA)

“When economically empowered Indigenous women succeed, we create economic opportunities for our communities, Nations, families and other Indigenous women. These investments honour the resiliency, intelligence and innovative contributions of Indigenous women in Canada.”
– Lynne Groulx, CEO, Native Women's Association of Canada (NWAC)

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 our 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


Laurel Sallie
Communications Assistant
Office of the Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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