OTTAWA – On January 11, the federal government announced a call for proposals for new projects under the Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund, one of the initiatives of the $6 billion Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). The announcement was made by Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development. She was joined by the Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth; Arif Virani, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development; and representatives of organizations that have received WES support, Christine Nakamura, Vice-President of the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada and Alida Burke, COO of Growcer.
“Just sixteen per cent of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are women-owned. We know that women face barriers when trying to grow or start a business. To directly address this issue, the Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund will continue helping women access training, mentorship and services while also supporting their businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to advocate and drive systemic change so that women-owned businesses in our country can thrive,” said Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth.
To date, the WES Ecosystem Fund has invested $100 million in 52 projects that are helping close service gaps in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for women, particularly in areas such as mentorship, networking and skills development. From 2020 to 2021, the Ecosystem Fund has helped over 5,000 women start a new business and over 7,000 women grow their existing business.
Under this new call for proposals, $25 million is available for projects that aim to remove systemic barriers and create more equal access to the resources that intersectionally diverse and underserved women in business need to succeed.
To be considered, projects must be led by non-profit organizations, be national or multi-regional in scope, and be focused on intersectionally diverse and/or underserved women entrepreneurs. Projects must also include a mentoring and networking component and should provide business development or capacity building and skills development to support:
- supplier diversity
- recovery planning/adaptation
Consideration will also be given to projects that will contribute to strengthening the network of women entrepreneurship organizations in Canada.