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October 31, 2018

Canada announces $20M fund for women entrepreneurs

The Women Entrepreneurship Fund will provide direct funding to women-owned and women-led businesses.

The full and equal participation of women in the economy is essential to Canada's competitiveness because when women succeed, everyone succeeds.

That's why in Budget 2018, the federal government launched the first ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a $2-billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.

On October 19, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, and the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, who were joined by women entrepreneurs and leaders, announced the launch of the Women Entrepreneurship Fundand participated in a panel on women entrepreneurship.

The fund will invest $20 million over two years to help women-owned and women-led businesses grow and reach export markets. It will provide successful applicants with up to $100,000 in funding (non-repayable contribution) they can use to grow their existing businesses.

The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy complements Government of Canada efforts to advance gender equality, which include addressing pay equity, introducing more affordable childcare and putting an end to gender-based violence.


"Our government believes that women's economic empowerment is not just the right thing to do; it's good for the bottom line. That's why we launched the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a strategy that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by increasing their access to financing, networks and advice. It's a smart investment with an economic and social return. I'm thrilled that the Women Entrepreneurship Fund will help foster women entrepreneurship from coast to coast to coast."  

– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion

"Our government recognizes that fostering diversity and inclusion is integral to creating an economy that works for everyone. As someone who has advocated for equality for all Canadians, I'm pleased to see our government's continued commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs and working together to achieve progress. When women are given the opportunities and tools to succeed in our economy, we all benefit. 

– The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility

Quick Facts:

  • The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) will help women start and grow their businesses by improving access to financing, talent, networks and expertise through an investment of nearly $2 billion.
  • The strategy will help our government achieve its goal of doubling the number of majority women-owned businesses by 2025.
  • WES programs complement our government's broader initiatives to help women, including measures on pay equity, more flexible parental leave and more affordable childcare.
  • Advancing gender equality has the potential to add $150 billion in incremental GDP to the Canadian economy by 2026.
  • Fewer than 16% of SMEs in Canada are majority women-owned.
  • Only 8.4% of majority women-owned SMEs export, compared to 12.8% of majority male-owned SMEs.
  • The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Canada 2015/16 Report on Women's Entrepreneurshipindicated that in 2016 Canada had the highest percentage of women participating in early-stage activity (13.3%) and the fifth highest in terms of female ownership of established businesses among comparable innovation-based economies.

Associated Links:

SOURCE: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Follow Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada on Twitter: @ISED_CA

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For further information: Mallory Clyne, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, 343-291-3553,; Media Relations, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, 343-291-1777,