The full and equal participation of women in the economy is not just the right thing to do; it's the smart thing to do.
Studies show that by advancing gender equality and women's participation in the economy, Canada could add up to $150 billion in GDP. Only 17% of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are owned by women, and the Government of Canada is working to change that.
The government is advancing women's economic empowerment with the first ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), representing nearly $7 billion in investments and commitments. The WES aims to increase women-owned businesses' access to the financing, networks and expertise they need to start up, scale up and access new markets.
The WES Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative will fund projects to strengthen and build a more inclusive venture capital environment for Canadian women.
The Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund is providing loans of up to $50,000 to women business owners and entrepreneurs so they can start up, scale up and access new markets. Several organizations selected to deliver the Fund are now accepting applications.
Are you a woman entrepreneur looking for networks that offer support, mentorship or help in growing your business? Check out the WES-funded ecosystem organizations that exist across Canada to help you achieve your business goals.
Are you looking for data on women's entrepreneurship? Check out the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, a one-stop source of knowledge, data and best practices for women entrepreneurs.
"The Government of Canada is taking concrete steps to build a more inclusive economy that works for everyone. This means breaking down the barriers women face in accessing the financing, mentorship and networks they need to start and grow a business. The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy has helped tens of thousands of women reach their entrepreneurship goals since launching in 2018. By investing in women and other under-represented entrepreneurs, we are investing in strengthening the economy and creating good middle-class jobs for Canadians across the country."– The Honourable Rechie Valdez, Minister of Small Business
2022 progress report
times WES services accessed
networking and learning events
Read our 2022 progress report to find out how WES is making a difference by:
- building a more inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem
- improving women’s access to financing
- helping women export
- improving knowledge and data on women entrepreneurship
- diversifying federal procurement
WES success stories
Find out how the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy has helped individual businesses.
WES funding helped Chickapea Pasta roll out new product lines and test new markets.
Borealis Geothermal used WES funding to develop a geothermal project with the Kitselas First Nation.
- Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC): Women Entrepreneurs
- BDC: Thrive Venture Fund and Lab for Women
- Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED): Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI)
- Export Development Canada (EDC): Women in Trade
- EDC: Inclusive Trade Investments Program
- Women and Gender Equality Canada: Women's Program
- Farm Credit Canada: Women Entrepreneur Program
- Public Services and Procurement Canada: Procurement Assistance Canada
- Global Affairs Canada (GAC): Business Women in International Trade
- GAC: CanExport funding for exporters
- GAC: Canada's Inclusive Approach to Trade
- October 16, 2023 - Minister Valdez kicks off Small Business Week and announces nearly $3 million in funding to support women entrepreneurs across Canada
- March 8, 2023 - International Women’s Day 2023: Minister Ng announces recipients of funding under the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy
- December 1, 2022 - Minister Ng announces that Evol is helping deliver much-needed access to capital to women entrepreneurs in Quebec
- August 15, 2022 - Minister Ng announces that Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada will help deliver much-needed access to capital to women entrepreneurs across the country
- April 25, 2022 – Minister Ng launches call for applications to deliver the Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative
- March 28, 2022 – Minister Ng announces renewed funding for the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub
- March 8, 2022 – Minister Ng announces the next phase of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy
- January 11, 2022 – Minister Ng announces new call for proposals under the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund
- July 28, 2021 – Minister Ng launches call for applications to deliver the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund