bigstock-Business-Woman-58547729According to a recent article written by Bernadeen McLeod, Women entrepreneurs face unique challenges when starting their own businesses. Lack of adequate information, especially related to small business financing, and a lack of female mentors are often cited as the two most important barriers. Despite these challenges women entrepreneurs are one of the fastest growing business segments in Canada.

  • Women-run companies create new jobs 4 times faster than the national average
  • Women create companies at double the national average
  • The number of women with incorporated businesses more than doubled in the past decade

To continue this accelerated growth and to allow women entrepreneurs to remain competitive there are a number of programs available across Canada that are developed specifically to assist women in starting and running successful businesses.

RBC’s Women Entrepreneurs Programs for Small Business Owners

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has specifically developed advice and services to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs. Financing is available through the bank as well as additional resources and expertise. Through their Small Business Financial Services Resource Centre women entrepreneurs can access a wide variety of information and assistance in starting and expanding a business as well as succession planning for their retirement. They also provide one-on-one strategic advising for women entrepreneurs to ensure that their businesses are successful.

RBC has also developed the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards allowing female entrepreneurs to celebrate one another and network. By celebrating women entrepreneurs RBC hopes to provide significant profile of the importance of female entrepreneurs on the Canadian economy.

Ontario Business Loans: Micro-lending for Women Entrepreneurs

Update: Micro-loan programs for women have been expanded. Accessing the link below will assist women in Ontario to find a micro-loan program for their region.

In January 2013, the Ontario government released $760,000 for a two year program to assist more than 800 low-income women become entrepreneurs. The initiative led by the Women’s Issues Minister Laurel Broten, includes financial training and microloans of $500 to $5000. This funding has been given to a number of community organizations across Ontario to support micro-lending programs and business advisory programs to low-income women looking to start their own small businesses.

Small Business Networks for Women Entrepreneurs

In a number of Canadian provinces including Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia have Women Entrepreneur or Women Enterprise Centres. These organizations provide women starting or growing their small businesses with business services and resources to ensure they are successful. Their teams are trained to understand and related to the unique circumstanced of women business owners and typically include mentoring from other women entrepreneurs.

Mentor Works Supports Small Business Owners with Free, Valuable Information on Government Funding Programs

In order to be successful, women entrepreneurs need access to up-to-date information and resources. Mentor Works provides information on popular government funding programs including small business grants and loans. To stay up-to-date on Canadian government funding and business news, you may subscribe to our Small Business Funding Newsletter. We also provide a variety of tools, tips, and support  services for female-led startups seeking business funding via our Startup Resources page.

Canadian Small Business Funding News

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Steph graduated in 2010 with an undergraduate degree in International Development and Globalization and is in the process of completing her Masters in Local Economic Development at the University of Waterloo. Steph is passionate about economic development and is excited about working with small businesses to ensure their success in accessing government funding.

Comments 18

6 September 2018 Reply

I would like to buy an existing and established laundromat and wanted to find out what loans and grants would be available to me.

7 September 2018 Reply

Hi Suzanne, a resource you might be interested in is the Canadian Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP). The program can help you apply for a loan to buy an existing business, even if you’ve been previously turned down for traditional bank financing. Here’s some more details:

23 July 2019 Reply

Hi Jiff
This is Sherine Zaki
I am looking for women fund program to apply for it to help me to start my small business plan
Can you please provide me by all the details and numbers and who can I contact with

24 July 2019 Reply

Hi Sherine – Entrepreneurs and startup businesses are encouraged to explore the Startup Resources (click for more info) available to see which options you can leverage to finance and structure your new business, including helping you with a business plan.

23 October 2018 Reply

Hi there,

I am a female entrepreneur who is looking for funding to launch my business. Can you please provide any information that would be of assistance?

1 November 2018 Reply

Hi Andrea, the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy is a Canadian government initiative to help women grow their businesses through access to financing, talent, networks and expertise. You can access a variety of supports here:

16 January 2019 Reply

Hello, My name is Nicole. I have had this light bulb of an idea come to me for a nail product paired with technology and I have had it hidden away for 4 years so far to long, I need to get this out there, but have to do it the right way and can NOT trust anyone cause they will steal my idea, especially if they have money!!!!!!!!!
I am looking to get my invention patented and need financial assistance to accomplish that. I have an absolutely revolutionary invention regarding nails that is not on the market but once it hits it would be a gold mine!!!! I am looking to pitch this idea to all the big cosmetic companies such as, Cover Girl, Revlon, L’Oréal , Maybelline. I also know once they hear this pitch for this nail product they will be competing for who gets the deal because it will change the way ladies apply color on their nails which has never been on the market since the invention of wet nail color!!! Please give me some information on how to proceed!!!!!! Thanks

17 January 2019 Reply

Hi Nicole, thanks for your message. At this time, you and your innovative idea are not well-suited for government funding programs. Government grants and loans typically support the research, development, commercialization, and manufacturing of products. Funding to offset the costs of patents is not provided at the government level, however, the cost of registering a patent in Canada is not very expensive. Here’s some information on patents from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

Government funding is ideal for established companies that have at least two years of positive financial statements, two or more employees, and are incorporated. Until you can satisfy these requirements, you do not have much funding potential and Mentor Works is of limited help. Hopefully the resource linked above sends you on the right path!

4 March 2019 Reply

Hi Jeff,
I am starting a training organization responding to the need of training corporate businesses in Gender Equality, Sexual Harassment, Gender Based Violence, Anti-Discrimination and the likes. Could you kindly guide me in terms of available grants/funds. Best regards, Annie

5 March 2019 Reply

Hi Annie, thanks for your comment! In terms of starting your training organization, there are no government funding programs we track that could assist you. The vast majority of government funding programs available assist mature, growth-oriented businesses to expand and become more successful. Companies with a limited track record of profitability are generally not considered for government grants.

One program you should be aware of, however, is the Canada Job Grant (CJG), a program which can help your customers offset training costs by up to $10,000 per trainee. This reduces the cost of your training to the client and improves their ROI, leading to happier clients that are willing to provide workforce training more often. Something to look into when you’re up and running!

5 June 2019 Reply

I am interested in starting a facility to take in abused horses and stop them from being sent to slaughter. I am an approved BC SPCA handler/care giver and transporter. This business would involve not just bringing the animal backup to proper health but to spend time with them to allow them to be at a state of being available for adoption to private individuals who would keep them and not just send them to auctions to be sold for horse meat. I am wanting to know what is available for grants or loans to do up this type of start up business which would also employ other people than just myself. Pls advise if there are any options available to me.

10 June 2019 Reply

Hi Cathy, thanks for your message. At this time, I believe the best option to support your business is the Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP), a government funding program designed to ease the process of accessing bank or credit union loans. Most government government grants and loans are targeted towards established companies that are looking to invest hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Until you’re ready to complete projects of this size, CSBFP is your best bet!

13 August 2019 Reply

Good Morning my name is Hardeep Olak, I want to know where to find funding for starting a development business in building affordable homes in rural communities and where the customers are. I will want to work with the different districts of British Columbia to get federal land to build these homes. I have done extensive research have suppliers and sub contractors in mind. I have the work force ready with apprentices and journeyman. This will be a construction business owned by myself. Being female and in construction is there any funding available to me to help me with this business to start and become reality.

15 August 2019 Reply

Hello Hardeep,

Thank you for reaching out with your questions on government funding for starting a new business. As it turns out Mentor Works specializes in working with grants for established companies that would have a couple years of financials behind them. If you fit into this scenario, you can connect with a member of our team to discuss what options are available to you by filling out the contact form on our website here. If you are just starting out, we do have a list of startup resources on our website here that may be helpful for you moving forward. Once you are established we would love to hear from you and see what programs we can work on together.

19 August 2019 Reply

What grants and/or funding can we access for women in construction under 35 years of age who are wanting to start their own business? Are there special programs?

20 August 2019 Reply

Hello Bertha,

Thank you for reaching out to us with this question. As it turns out Mentor Works specializes in working with established companies secure funding to grow their business in multiple ways, ranging from hiring, to export development, to research, and much more. There are some amazing resources out there for persons looking to start their own business that are currently outside of our specialty area. We have a list of resources for Canadian Startup businesses listed on our website here, which is the perfect place to start.

10 July 2020 Reply

Hi there,

I am a female looking for funding to open a small retail store. Are there any options for grants?

10 July 2020 Reply

Hi Chai – Congratulations on starting your own business! The majority of funding featured on our website is reserved for established businesses (3+ years incorporated, 15+ employees) however, there are dedicated Startup Resources for entrepreneurs like yourself. These resources will be your best bet for your business at this stage. All the best!

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