WES Ecosystem Fund

WES Ecosystem Fund

To answer questions about the program and the application process, ISED and the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) held an information session.

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The Second Call for Proposals for the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund is now closed. Therefore, we are no longer accepting applications. The application form was available from July 28, 2022 until September 26, 2022.

Please monitor the WES website frequently for future program updates.

The Government of Canada is committed to advancing gender equality and women's economic empowerment and to supporting women entrepreneurs through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (the Strategy).

As part of the Strategy, the Government is ensuring women across Canada have access to the business supports they need to start or grow a business.

To date, the WES Ecosystem Fund has invested $100 million over five years to strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem and close gaps in service for women entrepreneurs.

The first call of the WES Ecosystem Fund, launched January 11, 2022 and closed March 15, 2022, focused on supporting not-for-profit organizations to strengthen capacity and address ecosystem gaps for diverse populations of women entrepreneurs.

WES Ecosystem Fund – Second Call

Under this new second call for the WES Ecosystem Fund, $40 million is allocated to support projects that will provide business supports for women entrepreneurs and strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Canada.

This funding will provide an opportunity to further strengthen relationships between organizations within the entrepreneurship ecosystem; deliver supports that will contribute to business development and growth; and will prioritize support for activities in areas of strength for women entrepreneurs as well as for projects which provide services to women entrepreneurs in rural and remote areas or the North.

Eligibility

Projects must be led by a not-for-profit organization with at least three years of operations. Eligible applicants must apply as a partnership (two or more organizations working together).

Organizations must meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Have an established mandate focused on supporting women entrepreneurs; and/or
  • Have existing programming (offered within the past three years) which specifically targets or is focused on women entrepreneurs/women skills development.

Note

  • Recipients of 2018 Ecosystem Fund support may seek funding for either new projects or for enhanced/expanded 2018 projects, which abide by the parameters of this call for proposals.
  • Applicants and recipients of the WES Ecosystem Fund and WES Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative programming may also apply to the 2022 WES Ecosystem Fund, if they are eligible. However, the same project cannot receive funding under multiple contribution programs. Applicants should ensure that project proposals meet the given requirements and objectives of the second call for the WES Ecosystem Fund.
  • Funding decisions regarding the WES Ecosystem Fund first call (closed March 15, 2022) and WES Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative (closed June 20, 2022), may not be made before the deadline for this WES Ecosystem Fund second call: September 26, 2022 (11:59 am Pacific Time).
  • Decisions as to whether to apply for this second call are at the discretion of the applicant.

Project scope and areas of focus

Through this call, funding consideration will be given to projects that:

  • are national in scope, or serve a minimum of 5 provinces and territories (multi-regional);
  • projects which deliver benefits to women-owned businesses and/or support activities in areas of strength for women entrepreneurs (e.g. care economy, retail and service sectors) or projects which provide services to women entrepreneurs in rural and remote areas or the North;
  • have a maximum budget of $3,000,000
  • have a minimum budget of $250,000
  • be completed by March 31, 2025 (project lengths may vary)
  • deliver services and products in both official languages
  • focus on women entrepreneurs or women majority owned businesses (51% or more ownership stake) and demonstrate a focus on diverse/intersectional and/or under-served women entrepreneur populations
  • meet one or more of the following project scope elements:
    • Enhance or expand 2018 WES Ecosystem Fund Projects
    • Deliver business supports for women entrepreneurs (for example: business operation innovations [helping businesses become more sustainable, or achieve internal efficiencies] or supplier diversity and procurement)

Application deadline

The Government of Canada invites eligible organizations to submit proposals in either English or French no later than September 26, 2022 (11:59 am Pacific Time). Applications must include all required information outlined in Section 7 of the application guide to be considered in the next stage of the selection process. Section 7 includes the Budget Detail Template (PDF, 100 KB), which should be completed after consulting the Budget detail template instructions. Late applications will not be considered.

Please contact the WES Central Inbox (wes-sfe@ised-isde.gc.ca) or call 1-800-328-6189 for questions or concerns.

Submitting your application

Interested applicants can apply through the Application form (PDF, 93 KB). After completing the Application Form via our website, please submit all required supporting documents by selecting the "Add Attachments" and "Submit" buttons directly in the form. When you are ready to submit the Application Form, please first print or save a copy for your records.