Minister Ng announces the next phase of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy
March 8, 2022 – Ottawa, Ontario
The Government of Canada continues to be committed to advancing gender equality and women's economic empowerment.
Today, at the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, celebrated International Women’s Day by announcing the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, the next phase of the $6-billion Women Entrepreneurship Strategy. The Minister was joined by Julie Dabrusin, Member of Parliament for Toronto–Danforth; Alison Kirkland, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada; Wendy Curtis, Executive Director of the Northumberland Business Development Assistance Corp.; Shannin Metatawabin, CEO of the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association; and Vicki Saunders, Founder of SheEO.
While progress has been made since the launch of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy in 2018, access to capital, particularly in smaller amounts, remains a significant barrier for many women entrepreneurs seeking to start or grow their businesses.
To help address this barrier and ensure that women entrepreneurs have the tools and financing they need to succeed, the Government of Canada allocated $55 million in Budget 2021 to support increased lending to women entrepreneurs.
The Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund will allocate funding to not-for-profit organizations with existing loan programs to enable them to provide additional affordable financing to women entrepreneurs, particularly for start-ups, under-represented groups or sole proprietorships that experience more difficulty in accessing financing.
The first four organizations selected to deliver microloans under this fund are:
- Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada
- Northumberland Business Development Assistance Corp.
- National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association
- SheEO Canada
Women entrepreneurs will be able to apply for loans of up to $50,000 through these organizations. Information on when they will be able to apply for the microloans will be available on the organizations’ websites and on the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund web page in the coming months.
These new Women Entrepreneur Strategy measures build on the historic investments the government has made to support women since 2015—from integrating gender-based analysis into policy decisions and program development, legislating pay equity and enhancing the Canada Child Benefit to providing special funding to support women entrepreneurs during the pandemic and legislating $10-dollar-a-day daycare.
“Our government is committed to removing systemic barriers and empowering women entrepreneurs, and today is just another step in moving the dial. The new Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund will provide direct financial support to women entrepreneurs, helping them start and scale their business.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
“I thank the Government of Canada for its continued investment in women entrepreneurs through the establishment of the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund. I know that this fund will enable the growth of small and medium-sized businesses, which are the backbone of the Canadian economy. I am confident that the loans program established by WEOC will support women entrepreneurs both by providing access to much needed funding and the wrap-around supports that we know ensure long-term success.”
– Alison Kirkland, CEO, Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada
“Today’s announcement represents a historic opportunity to support women entrepreneurs from the ground up with strategic capitalization of new and innovative microloan funds. We are grateful to join Minister Ng in charting a new path for inclusive and sustainable economic growth and to contribute to Canada’s competitiveness, productivity and prosperity.”
– Wendy Curtis, Executive Director, Northumberland Business Development Assistance Corp.
“As the number of Indigenous women who are becoming business owners is growing, we anticipate there will be a high uptake in the microloan fund. We welcome this additional support as it complements NACCA’s new Indigenous Women Entrepreneurship Program and it will enable us to support more Indigenous women through our network.”
– Shannin Metatawabin, CEO, National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association
“We are excited to leverage this capital in our community of radically generous women to drive more impact from women and non-binary folks working on the World’s To-Do List.”
– Vicki Saunders, Founder, SheEO
The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a more than $6-billion investment, includes:
- the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, which will bolster existing loan programs focused on women entrepreneurs by providing additional affordable microloans to women entrepreneurs;
- the WES Ecosystem Fund, which is helping remove barriers to the support networks and deliver the resources that women entrepreneurs need to start up, scale up and access new markets; and
- the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which has brought together 10 regional hubs, over 300 organizations and thousands of women entrepreneurs to create a more inclusive and supportive environment to grow women’s entrepreneurship in Canada.
The government is also investing in removing systemic barriers faced by diverse entrepreneurs through programs like the Black Entrepreneurship Program.
To ensure women have equal access to the benefits and opportunities arising from international investment, Canada is taking an inclusive approach to trade by integrating gender-related provisions in all its free trade agreements. The government has also co-signed the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement—a stand-alone initiative open to other economies to join.
Office of the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
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