In Canada, only 10% of high growth businesses and less than 16% of all small and medium-sized businesses are owned, operated, or controlled by women. While the gap on gender inequality has decreased marginally in the past decades across Canada, it’s important to understand that systemic and critical barriers still exist, especially among certain industries such as the ever-expanding tech sector.
“Women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses – particularly those in the technology industry – face unique challenges. Our government’s investment in accelerators like ventureLAB through Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy will help Canadian women-led businesses to weather these challenging times, and set them up to be able to grow and thrive into the future.”
– Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
To support the growth of women entrepreneurs across southern Ontario, the Government of Canada has announced an additional investment of $15 million into Canada’s first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund. To be delivered through FedDev Ontario, $370,000 of the newly invested funding will be allocated for distribution to ventureLAB’s Tech Undivided, a program that focuses on paving a sustainable path for women-led businesses.
What is the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund?
The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) aims to help the Government of Canada achieve its goal of doubling the number of women-owned businesses by 2025 by providing female entrepreneurs with resources that are dedicated to strategic growth plans, investments, talent acquisition, and access to knowledge.
The WES Ecosystem Fund helps women entrepreneurs by addressing gender inequality gaps and building growth strategies for the success of women-led businesses.
Since its launch in 2018, the WES Ecosystem Fund has received a multitude of contributions that have more than doubled the fund in size, with a current total allocation of nearly $5 billion. Examples of activities eligible for funding include: incubator and accelerator programs, initiatives to support women in traditionally underrepresented sectors, and networking, matchmaking, and mentorship opportunities.
How is ventureLAB’s Tech Undivided Program Utilizing the $370k Funding for Women Entrepreneurs?
With FedDev Ontario’s government funding, ventureLAB’s Tech Undivided program aims to assist women-led businesses in the tech sector by helping them develop a strong path towards success and economic growth, ultimately increasing revenue and overall capital.
The Tech Undivided program will focus on:
- Customer acquisition – ventureLAB plans to deliver three targeted virtual customer events to provide female-driven tech companies with the opportunity to connect with aligned businesses, and act as a platform for introductions to potential customers.
- Incremental support in raising investment capital – ventureLAB will establish a series of three virtual Investor Roundtables to allow women-led organizations to pitch their business plans to a group of highly curated and strategically aligned investment partners.
- Brand visibility and networking connections – ventureLAB will obtain a sponsored partnership with Women of Influence to build visibility, networking opportunities, and customer generation for businesses within the WES ecosystem.
- Subject matter expert advisory support – ventureLAB aims to deliver hands-on support for women entrepreneurs by engaging external subject matter experts to aid in improving awareness, consideration, and alternative revenue opportunities for female-led businesses, as well as assist them in developing a longer term plan.
“Our vision for Tech Undivided is to reduce unconscious bias and create an inclusive tech ecosystem that increases representation and access to capital. Scaling tech firms, particularly those led by women, have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 — we hope that this additional investment from the Government of Canada will help women-led tech firms re-establish growth trajectories and future-proof their businesses.”
– Melissa Chee, President and CEO, ventureLAB
How to Apply for FedDev Ontario Funding
While applications are currently closed for the second round of intakes for ventureLAB’s Tech Undivided program, interested applicants can stay updated by signing up for the Mentor Works Weekly Funding Newsletter, or by reaching out for a funding discovery session.
Applicants interested in FedDev Ontario funding can access grants and loans from alternative programs such as the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) and the Reopen, Rebuild, Revive (RE3) initiative geared at providing grants for women-led businesses to safely reopen their companies following impacts caused by the pandemic.