Even in Canada, where feminism and the fight for equal rights have come a long way, women entrepreneurs continue to face unique challenges when starting their own businesses. Some analysts are even arguing that the pandemic has turned back the clock on women entrepreneurship due to support programs excluding women, lack of access to resources, and STEM companies being prioritized. It is evident once again that a lack of adequate information is available for women, especially related to small business financing options. Many female entrepreneurs are currently facing several challenges with keeping their staff onboard, continuing operation processes, and meeting financial goals.
While many women-led business funding programs often focus on STEM support, women-owned organizations are much more prevalent in retail, accommodation, food services, and tourism.
Despite these new and ongoing challenges, women entrepreneurs remain one of the fastest growing business segments in Canada.
- Women-led businesses create new jobs four times faster than the national average
- Women create companies at double the national average
- The number of women with incorporated businesses has more than doubled in the past decade
To continue this accelerated growth, women entrepreneurs must remain competitive. We’ve outlined three financial resources available across Canada that are developed specifically to assist women in starting, planning, and building a successful small business.
BMO has released statistics showcasing that despite the ongoing battle against changing the status quo of the business world, 57% of women still wish they were more confident in their financial decision making.
With over 3,000 members, the BMO Alliance for Women is a community of employees — of all genders — who champion the inclusion, connection, development, advancement, and support of women. BMO for Women provides educational resources, funding opportunities, shared networking, and guidelines for women in business all across the country.
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 side by side. By celebrating women entrepreneurs, RBC hopes to provide significant profile of the importance of female business-owners to the Canadian economy.
The Scotiabank Women Initiative is a comprehensive program helping women take their businesses to the next level, through access to capital funding, mentorship, and education.
When signed up for the program, members will benefit from small group mentoring sessions on pre-defined topics hosted by the experienced Advisory Board to discuss complex business issues and help women grow their businesses.
The initiative works individually with each unique women-led business to develop tailored solutions in accessing funding to preserve and increase cash flow.
Government Funding Programs for Women-Led Businesses
There are also several current government funding programs that cater specifically to supporting women-led businesses, such as FedDev Ontario’s Rebuild Reopen Revive (RE3) Initiative distributed through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), in which women business owners can receive up to $5,000 in non-repayable grants to help with pandemic recovery. The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) also exists in the same landscape by helping women grow their businesses with access to several funding and mentorship opportunities.
In order to remain vigilant, women entrepreneurs require ongoing access to up-to-date information and resources. Mentor Works provides information on current government funding programs including small business grants and loans. Sign up for the Weekly Funding Newsletter to stay informed or download a free government funding for start-ups checklist.