Minister Valdez announces key findings of the State of Women Entrepreneurship annual report and reaffirms support for women entrepreneurs across Canada

News release

March 18, 2024 – Toronto, Ontario

A more inclusive economy is a stronger economy. That’s why the Government of Canada is dedicated to taking concrete action to advance gender equality, which will help build an economy that works for all Canadians.

Today, the Honourable Rechie Valdez, Minister of Small Business, announced key findings of the annual report on the State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada, with Dr. Wendy Cukier, Founder and Academic Director of the Diversity Institute and the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub. The report is produced by the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub with support from the Government of Canada.

The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship (SOWE) annual report provides the most complete picture of research on women’s entrepreneurship in Canada. Some of the findings from the 2024 SOWE report include the following:

  • Women business ownership is growing: In 2023, approximately 18.4% of all businesses were majority owned by women in Canada, compared to 15.6% in 2017.  
  • Women entrepreneurs drive economic growth and sustainability: Women-owned businesses focus more on innovation and environmental sustainability than men-owned businesses.
  • Women entrepreneurs still earn less: 37.1% of women entrepreneurs earn less than $50,000 annually, compared to 31.7% of men entrepreneurs.

This report shows that while women entrepreneurs are making progress, they continue to face challenges, and more work needs to be done. This is why the Government of Canada continues to support under-represented entrepreneurs through programs like Canada’s first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a nearly $7 billion initiative that is helping tens of thousands of women entrepreneurs from all walks of life across Canada get the support they need to succeed.

This initiative is part of the historic investments the government has made since 2015 to support women, including legislating pay equity, enhancing the Canada Child Benefit, providing special funding to support women entrepreneurs during the pandemic, establishing agreements across the country for provinces and territories to provide $10-a-day child care, committing over $530 million for the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, and introducing national pharmacare legislation that will offer universal access to free contraceptives.

This report and its findings will help inform future policy and programming to support women entrepreneurs, and it will help the Government of Canada identify the necessary steps to ensure that every Canadian who wants to start their own business has the support they need to succeed. 


“Supporting women entrepreneurs isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do. Partners like the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub are helping us better understand the immense contribution women make to our economy and the challenges they still face. I want to thank everyone who helped put together this report and its findings, which will help inform our future policy-making on supporting women entrepreneurs across Canada. This is not just how we create a more inclusive society—it’s also how we create good jobs and build a strong economy that works for everyone.”
– The Honourable Rechie Valdez, Minister of Small Business 

"To design effective strategies and programs to support women entrepreneurs, we need evidence about the support resources available and their impact, as well as what works for them. The annual State of Women’s Entrepreneurship report outlines what we know and what we need to know to promote a more inclusive innovation ecosystem and to inform the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). Recently, in a workshop at the 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, attendees confirmed that what we are doing in Canada is unique and important. While many countries recognize the important role of small and medium-sized enterprises and the need to support women entrepreneurs, Canada, through WES, is a global leader in taking a whole-of-government approach to strengthening the ecosystem and advancing women entrepreneurship. Our intersectional approach is unique. So is our laser focus on applying a gender and diversity lens to understand systemic barriers and develop effective strategies to unlock opportunities across all government departments.”
– Dr. Wendy Cukier, Founder and Academic Director, Diversity Institute and Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub 

Quick facts

  • The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) is a one-stop source of knowledge, data and best practices for women entrepreneurs.

  • In 2018, through a competitive process, the Government of Canada awarded Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University) up to $8.62 million over three years to establish the Hub. In Budget 2021, the government committed a further $5 million to support the Hub’s work, and a further $3.8 million in November 2023.

  • National in scope, WEKH is made up of 10 regional hubs that work together to coordinate activities in different regions. Each of the regional hubs brings its unique area of expertise and specialization to WEKH.

  • With a network of over 250 partners, WEKH brings together researchers, business support organizations and key stakeholders to create a more inclusive and supportive environment to grow women’s entrepreneurship in Canada. Together, they are supporting the advancement of women entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds throughout the innovation ecosystem.

  • The Hub’s activities include:

    • collecting, analyzing and disseminating information, and/or advancing research on women’s entrepreneurship;
    • supporting and sharing best practices and knowledge among women business support organizations; and
    • reporting on the progress of women entrepreneurs in Canada, including a review of the Canadian entrepreneurship ecosystem’s supports for women.
  • The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) is a nearly $7 billion investment that, in addition to the WEKH, includes:

    • the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, which funds partner organizations to deliver loans of up to $50,000 to women business owners and entrepreneurs;
    • the Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative, which seeks to build a more inclusive venture capital environment for Canadian women; and
    • the WES Ecosystem Fund, which is helping strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem and deliver the resources that women entrepreneurs need to start or grow a business. 
  • The government is also investing in removing systemic barriers faced by diverse and intersectional women entrepreneurs through programs like the Black Entrepreneurship Program and the 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Program. 


Nadine Ramadan
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Small Business

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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