Government Funding

The Top 3 Financial Resources for Women Entrepreneurs

Young Beautiful Business Lady Is Smiling In The Panoramic Glass

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 for Women: Committed to Real Financial Progress

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.

RBC’s Women Entrepreneur Support for Small Business

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: Supporting Women-Led Businesses

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.

Canadian Government Funding for Startups

20 Comments

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

      1. 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

  2. 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?

  3. 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

    1. 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. 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

    1. 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. 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.

    1. 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!

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

  7. Hi,
    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?

    1. 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.

  8. Hi there,

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

    1. 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!

  9. Hello there. I am a female business owner, Wellness Canada.ca
    I am a certified, clinical Hypnotist looking for start up resources.

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