Application process: Women Entrepreneurship Fund


This call for proposals is closed - we are no longer accepting applications.

In total, more than 300 applications were approved for funding.

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Women Entrepreneurship Fund

The Government of Canada is committed to advancing gender equality, women's economic empowerment, and supporting women entrepreneurs through the new Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (the Strategy) announced in Budget 2018. As part of the Strategy, the Government has made funding available to women-owned and/or women-led businesses to support them to grow and pursue market opportunities abroad.

The Women Entrepreneurship Fund is a $20 million investment which aims to assist women entrepreneurs to grow their existing businesses and enable them to mature to a state where they can pursue opportunities in domestic and global markets. It will provide up to $100,000 in non-repayable contribution funding.


Eligible applicants

Eligible applicants must be:

  • A for profit organization: this may include, but not be limited to:
    • An individual operating a business
    • Partnerships
    • Social enterprises
    • Incorporated companies, corporations or co-operatives, and
    • An Indigenous organization.
  • A women-owned and/or women-led business
  • A small to medium enterprise (SME) – (up to 499 employees), and
  • A business in operation for a minimum of 2 years (Please consult this eligibility criterion in the FAQs).

Ineligible applicants:

  • Not-for-profit organizations, and
  • Government or municipal entities

Priority will be given to any of the following three applicant groups:

  • Diverse women entrepreneurs (such as women with disabilities, Indigenous women, women in rural or remote regions, recent immigrants, visible minority women, women from Official Language Minority Communities)
  • Businesses with products or services related to one of the Economic Strategy Tables sectors, and
  • Projects seeking to pursue market opportunities abroad.

These applications will be assessed and funded first. If funding remains, other applicants will be considered.

Notice: Minimum Cash Contribution

Applications that do not meet the minimum cost-share ratio, will automatically be rejected. For more information, please consult the cash contribution question in the FAQs.

Eligible activities

Eligible activities should support an eligible applicant's growth strategy and could include, but is not limited to:

  • Supporting the pursuit of market opportunities abroad (e.g. international marketing strategy, supply chain integration, promotions, business advisory services, online presence/website development
  • Supporting scale-up, expansion and growth (e.g. product development and/or product or service improvement, process improvements, inventory management, value stream mapping, improvements to facility equipment, technology improvements)
  • Other activities (e.g. additional activities that support the objectives of the Women Entrepreneurship Fund.

If your application is approved, you will sign an agreement with the Government of Canada that outlines the conditions of funding. Any project costs incurred before the signing of the agreement will not be eligible for reimbursement.

Eligible costs

Eligible costs include all costs necessary to carry out the project which are deemed reasonable under the Women Entrepreneurship Fund.

Examples of eligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • Cost of labour
  • Capital costs: purchase of machinery, equipment and infrastructure
  • Operating costs: management fees or working capital
  • Consultancy fees
  • Costs related to intellectual property
  • Preproduction
  • Commercialization costs
  • Subcontracting costs
  • Production and distribution of promotional materials and management tools
  • Anticipated cost of maintaining the useful life of an asset for a reasonable period
  • Production of management tools, and
  • Other costs necessary to support the purpose of the funding, as approved by the Minister.

Advisory expenses are also encouraged and could include:

  • Fees for business advisory services from a financial institution
  • Coaching, mentoring or networking events, workshops or conference fees
  • Legal/accounting/technical supports, and
  • Fees associated with participation in business training through an accelerator, incubator or other business service organization.

Ineligible costs

Ineligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • The refinancing of an existing debt
  • The purchase of any assets for more than the fair market value
  • Costs of amortization
  • Land acquisition, and
  • Goodwill

Assessment criteria and review process

Applications will be assessed on a competitive basis and funds will be awarded to submissions that best fit program needs and assessment criteria.

Review process

Step 1: Initial screening

All application packages will be screened to ensure that they are complete and meet the eligibility criteria. If an application package is incomplete or fails to meet the eligibility criteria, applicants will be notified in writing that their application will not be considered further.

Step 2: Review process

Eligible application packages will be assessed against the defined assessment criteria. Please note that the assessment criteria for each section are included in the Application guide.

Step 3: Decision

Funding will be based on application packages’ evaluation results, government priorities and available funding. Once a final decision is made, all applicants will be notified in writing.

How to apply

Download the WES Application Form (see ZIP link below) and complete as instructed in the Application guide, attach all mandatory additional documentation and click 'Apply now' when finished to submit. Receipt of your application package will be acknowledged within two business days.

The WES Application Form is in PDF format and will open automatically within Internet Explorer when you click on the ZIP link below.

WES Application Form (ZIP, 115 Kb)

If you are encountering problems opening the Application Form, please consult the 'About the application process section' of the FAQs.

Application Intake

The deadline to submit an application is November 15, 2018 at 23:59 PST.

Notice: Canada Post Service Disruption in Effect

Canada Post Corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers are now in a legal strike or lockout position. Mail delivery across Canada could be affected.

To meet the submission deadlines, it is highly recommended that your application be submitted online. However, if you are unable to do so because you live in rural or remote area with limited internet access, we will accept couriered application packages sent, no later than the deadline date, to the following address:

Women Entrepreneurship Strategy – Small Business Branch
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street, 5th Floor, West Tour, Mail Box 13
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H5

Contact information

If you require further information or clarification about the application process, please contact us:


Please be advised that the generic email account is un-secured and should not be used if you are sending sensitive or personal information.