Western Economic Diversification Canada supports women-owned businesses in Western Canada

News release

Government of Canada to invest $8.3 million in western Canadian women entrepreneurs

Edmonton, Alberta, July 15, 2020 – Western Economic Diversification Canada

Canadian women entrepreneurs are contributing to the economic success of our communities. At the same time, they have unique and systemic hurdles to overcome when starting and growing a business, and have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, many of the sectors where women entrepreneurs tend to operate like retail, accommodation and food services, have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

To help remedy this situation, Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Western Economic Diversification Canada), today announced $8.3 million through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to support the Women’s Enterprise Initiative (WEI) organizations across Western Canada. PS Duguid made the announcement on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD).

The Women’s Enterprise Centre in British Columbia, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan, and the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba will each receive $2 million in additional loan funds for women entrepreneurs. In addition, $300,000 in operating funding will be divided equally among the four WEIs to meet the increased demand for advisory services and business supports.

Targeted support for women entrepreneurs in Western Canada

These organizations will use the funds to assist Canadian women-owned businesses unable to access larger federal relief funding programs by providing them with immediate liquidity to face COVID-19-related challenges. WEI organizations have extensive experience working with women entrepreneurs, assisting them to overcome barriers and challenges in building their businesses. They also have a proven track record in providing loans and after-care services to women entrepreneurs to ensure their long-term success.

Supporting businesses during this unprecedented time of crisis is an integral part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. These businesses are the backbone of our economy—they provide good jobs that support families across the country.  By supporting employers today, Canada will be in a stronger position as we come out of this crisis.


“Women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses are facing unique challenges in Canada and across the West. I’m pleased the Government of Canada is able to provide these supports so they can continue operating and building Canada's economic future. Women entrepreneurs want to go back to building their businesses, and we will be there to help them build back better.

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, MP for Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada

“Western Canadian women entrepreneurs make incredible contributions to our economy and communities every day. Their economic empowerment is essential for a thriving economy and will be crucial for the economic recovery of western Canadian communities. With WD’s assistance and other Government of Canada supports women-led businesses will come back stronger than ever.”

- Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Western Economic Diversification Canada) and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (Canada Water Agency)

“The RRRF will assist in amplifying the supports provided by WESK (and other members of the Women’s Enterprise Initiative) to women entrepreneurs in our province. Women entrepreneurs leveraging the new loan fund can also utilize the wrap around services of WESK to address business recovery in a strategic fashion.”

- Prabha Mitchell, Chief Executive Officer, Women Entrepreneurs Saskatchewan

Quick facts

  • On May 13, 2020, the Government of Canada launched the $962 million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund—including $304.2 million for Western Canada—to support businesses economically impacted by the COVID-19.

  • The funding announced today is provided through WD, which strategically invests in projects that promote sustainable community economic diversification, enhance business development and growth, and facilitate innovation.

  • In 1995, WD established the Women’s Enterprise Initiative (WEI), creating an independent non-profit organization in each western province to support women entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. The WEI organizations provide business advisory services, loans (up to $150,000), mentorship and networking opportunities to support women entrepreneurs.

  • The Government of Canada is advancing women's economic empowerment with the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a nearly $5-billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.

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Jeremy Ghio
Communications Director
Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Media Relations
Western Economic Diversification Canada

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