Female entrepreneurs are crucial to our economic success, yet only 16% of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are owned by women. The pandemic has disproportionately impacted women and long-standing gender inequalities have been amplified over the course of this past year. More than 16,000 women have dropped out of the labour force completely, while the number of males in the labour force has grown by 91,000. The government is committed to supporting female entrepreneurs and recovering from this “she-cession.”
Launched through Budget 2018, the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy and Fund helps women-owned and women-led businesses invest in activities that focus on pursuing market opportunities overseas and supporting scale-up, expansion, and growth.
To accelerate the critical, on-going work of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, Budget 2021 proposes up to $146.9 million over four years, starting in 2021-22 to provide affordable financing, increase data, and strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Women entrepreneurs also have greater access to financing, mentorship, and training. This funding further supports the Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund and the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.
Furthermore, our government will aid the financial sector in developing a voluntary code which supports the inclusion of women and other underrepresented entrepreneurs when interacting with the financial industry.
We all have a role to play in advancing women's economic empowerment to ensure a more prosperous future.