Minister Ng announces investment in Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub to support women’s economic empowerment
August 3, 2021 – St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
As Canada works to finish the fight against COVID-19, the Government of Canada is committed to making a strong, inclusive economic recovery that addresses the systemic gaps and empowers women in the economy.
Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced $5 million from Budget 2021 for the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH), one of the pillars of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a now $6-billion program to advance women’s economic empowerment. The funding will allow WEKH to continue the momentum of its work, advancing its research and expanding tools and resources to support diverse women entrepreneurs.
Minister Ng made the announcement from the Signal Hill campus of Memorial University in St. John’s. The Minister was joined by the Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., Minister of Natural Resources and Member of Parliament for St. John’s South–Mount Pearl; Gudie Hutchings, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, and Member of Parliament for Long Range Mountains; as well as Jennifer Bessell, CEO of NLOWE, the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs.
WEKH consists of an extensive network of over 300 partners—including researchers, business support organizations and key industry leaders—that are working to create a more supportive environment to grow women’s entrepreneurship in Canada. By collecting, analyzing and disseminating information, WEKH helps track progress being made and inform the work ahead to support more women business owners in starting up, scaling up and exporting to new markets.
Minister Ng also announced that WEKH has released its annual report, The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada 2021. The report focuses on the structural barriers that women entrepreneurs in Canada face, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on women and ways to move forward. Though its findings show that women’s businesses were disproportionately affected by the challenges of COVID-19, the report also explores how the pandemic has fuelled innovation and growth for some women entrepreneurs.
Over the last year, the government has funded work to expand WEKH’s network, with a particular focus on racialized, Indigenous and Black communities, Francophone business support organizations, persons with disabilities and other under-represented groups. WEKH also stayed connected with women entrepreneurs throughout the pandemic by hosting a virtual month-long conference on economic recovery, developing a mentorship database of over 1,000 award-winning Canadian women industry leaders, and launching a sharing platform to collaborate and to share experiences and knowledge.
This progress builds on the historic investments the government has made to support women since 2015—from integrating gender-based analysis into policy decisions, legislating pay equity and enhancing the Canada Child Benefit to providing special funding to support women entrepreneurs during the pandemic and working to make Canada-wide child care a reality through a $30-billion investment in Budget 2021.
“Looking ahead to our recovery from COVID-19, our government knows that supporting women is the smartest thing we can do. By advancing gender equality, we can add $150 billion to the Canadian economy. From the critical supports we’re providing to Canadian businesses during COVID-19 to the forward-looking investments we’re making to improve access to economic opportunities for all, we will ensure the gains made through supporting the success of women entrepreneurs and business owners are not lost to the pandemic. These investments are important social and economic measures that will be critical to building back better.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) is a more than $6-billion investment to help increase women-owned businesses’ access to the financing, talent, networks and expertise they need to start up, scale up and access new markets. In the fall 2020 Speech from the Throne, the government committed to accelerating the work being done under the strategy, which has already helped women across Canada grow their businesses.
In spring 2020, the government provided an additional $15 million for the WES Ecosystem Fund, enabling existing recipient organizations to provide thousands of women entrepreneurs with access to urgent business support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through a competitive process, the Government of Canada awarded Ryerson University in Toronto up to $8.62 million over three years to establish the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which is made up of 10 regional hubs that are working together to coordinate activities in different regions. Through Budget 2021, a further $5 million has been put towards enhancing the Hub.
Budget 2021 delivers more funding to help businesses make a strong recovery from the pandemic as the economy safely reopens. Highlights include:
The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care.
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
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