Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund: Frequently Asked Questions

About eligibility

Who is eligible to apply?

Applicants must be not-for-profit organizations with at least five (5) years of experience managing loan funds. Applicants may apply independently or as part of a partnership/consortium. While the lead applicant must have at least five years of loan management experience, partner organizations are not required to demonstrate  loan management requirements.

Who is ineligible to apply?

For-profit organizations are ineligible to apply independently, but may apply as a partner within a partnership/consortium led by a not-for-profit organization.

How many organizations will be selected to deliver loans through this initiative?

One or more not-for-profit organizations (either individually or as a consortium) will be selected to deliver loans, ensuring national coverage, while simultaneously addressing balance in other areas (e.g. intersectionality, rural/urban, language, etc.).

What are eligible costs for delivery organizations of the Loan Fund?  

Eligible costs are costs that are reasonable and necessary to carry out the project. For a list of eligible costs, please consult Section 5.1 of the Application Guide.

About the application process

How can I submit an application?

Applications to deliver this program must be submitted through the website by accessing the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund's application form. Submission deadline is September 20, 2021 at 11:59 a.m. (Pacific time). Applications must include all of the required information outlined in the application guide to be considered in the next stage of the selection process. Late submissions will not be considered.

What documents must be submitted as part of an application?

Applications must include the following information:

  • Proposal paper that outlines the Loan Model, no more than 30 pages in length which includes the information outlined in Section C of the Application Guide.
  • Audited financial statements (three most recent years).
  • Incorporation document.
  • Budget Detail Template.
  • Sustainability Plan (covering the period after funding ends in 2023-24).
  • A completed application form submitted by an authorized official from your organization.
  • If applicable, letter(s) of support from partners (signed by their authorized official) in the application.
  • Quebec-based organizations only: confirmation if the organization is subject to comply with M-30 legislation. This information will not have any bearing on the applicant's assessment. In the event that a candidate is successful, government officials will work on obtaining proper authorizations to ensure compliance with M-30 legislation. For more information, please visit: Act M-30
What if can't submit my documentation electronically?

If an application cannot be submitted electronically, please contact us at wes-sfe@ised-isde.gc.ca or 1-800-328-6189.

How do I apply as part of a partnership/consortium?

A partnership consists of a Canadian non-profit organization lead applicant and one or more partner organization(s). Particularly for national or pan-regional projects, collaboration will help build the capacity needed to maximize the availability of loans to women entrepreneurs, and to a diversity of entrepreneurs, while also ensuring that service can be delivered in both official languages across a broader geographic area.

Partnerships could enable organizations to strengthen their applications by offering a broader range of services. For example, applicants may wish to consider partnering with existing Ecosystem recipients. As well, applicants may wish to use the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH)/The Forum: Sharing Platform to seek out partnerships by posting an "Ask" or viewing "Asks" from others using the "Connections" category. We suggest including reference to the Loan Fund in your title. For additional information on the free online platform please refer to the WEKH/The Forum: Sharing Platform User Guide.

A project proposal for a partnership will be submitted by one applicant (the not-for-profit lead organization). The lead organization is responsible for completing and signing the application form, managing the project and contribution funding, and reporting on results.

The applicant must include a letter(s) of support from partners (signed by their authorized official) in the application. A letter(s) should outline partner roles and contributions in delivering the required project, experience, expertise and knowledge.

Can an organization submit more than one application package or partner with multiple groups submitting applications?

No, applicants may only submit one application package.   

What if I don't have partners. Can I apply on my own?

Yes, not-for-profit organizations can apply on their own. Once all applications have been received, ISED may approach certain applicants if there seems to be potential for possible collaboration. In general, preference will be given to applicants who demonstrate a greater ability to deliver loans on a national or multi-regional basis.

What form of funding is available?

The Government of Canada will fund recipients through non-repayable contribution agreements to deliver loans to women entrepreneurs. Typically through this type of funding, recipients incur costs, and submit claims for reimbursement. To be reimbursed, costs must be incurred, eligible, paid, related to work in the approved budget and work plan, and fall within the start and end date of the project. Details on eligible administrative costs for recipients are available in Section 5.1 of the Application Guide.

Loans to women entrepreneurs must be repayable.

How long is the application process?

The application process will close on September 20, 2021 at 11:59 a.m. (Pacific Time).

What are your service standards?

Once you submit an application, our goal is to acknowledge the receipt of a completed and signed application package within 48 hours of receiving it (business days). We will respond to general inquiries within 48 hours (during business days). Please inquire early as we cannot guarantee a response to questions received in the last 48 hours before the application process closes.

Can applicants select which official language they wish to submit their application in?

Yes. Applicants may submit their application documents in either English or French.

About the assessment process

When will decisions be made about the applications and how will applicants be notified?

Applicants are expected to be selected in the Fall/Winter 2021. All applicants will be notified in writing if their application has been approved or rejected.

How are applications assessed?

Applications will be assessed on a competitive basis to ensure that they meet the eligibility criteria. Further guidance is provided in the Assessment Criteria section (Section 6) of the Application Guide.

When will successful applicants be announced?

The application process will close on September 20, 2021 at 11:59 a.m. (Pacific Time). We expect to announce successful recipients in the following months.

About funding

Can we start working on our project and incur expenses before receiving final approval?

Any costs incurred before an application is approved and a contribution agreement is signed is not eligible for reimbursement.

How many organizations will receive funding?

The number of successful applicants will be determined by the scope and quality of the applications received. During the assessment period, the Government may follow-up/consult with applicants to explore opportunities for collaboration between applicants before final recipients are chosen. One or more delivery organization(s)/consortium(s) will be selected through this process to provide loans to women entrepreneurs. Priority will be given to eligible applicants that demonstrate the capacity to deliver services to women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses on a national or multi-provincial level.

How will funding be distributed among delivery organization(s)?

The Government will assess applications and select one or more delivery organization(s)/consortium(s) based on the assessment of their abilities as outlined in their proposals, as well as the need to meet program objectives such as national coverage, access for diverse women entrepreneurs, rural/urban availability, etc. The Government will work with selected recipients to define delivery coverage and final funding amounts.

Loan funding will be provided to selected delivery organizations through a one-time government investment in 2021-22, with negotiated administrative costs of up to 15% (sourced from the overall funding) paid to delivery organizations over three years (through 2023-24) as costs are incurred. The one-time government investment will not be repaid at the end of the three years but will continue to serve as a source of revolving loan fund capital.

The Government has provided three years of funding for this program. What happens after the three years of funding?

This loan fund is intended to operate as a revolving fund with delivery organizations, selected through this process, using repaid loans to offer new loans to women entrepreneurs. As part of their submissions, applicants are asked to provide sustainability plans to address the post-contribution agreement period. The Government will review and assess the need for further administrative support, beyond 2023-24, as part of its contribution agreement oversight role.

About reporting requirements

How will this initiative be monitored? What are the reporting requirements?

Financial and data reporting expectations will be established as part of finalizing contribution agreements with selected recipients. Financial reporting will be required for reimbursement of expenditures, in addition to year-end accounting and other financial information, as requested at Government of Canada's discretion.

Although not mandatory, it will be recommended that selected recipients share aggregate administrative data with the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub in order to support further analysis on women's access to capital in Canada.  

Delivery organizations will be expected to report on lending trends under the program as outlined in Section C of the Application Guide.

Still have questions?

Additional questions may be submitted via e-mail at wes-sfe@ised-isde.gc.ca.