Are you an aspiring women entrepreneur based in Canada? If you have dreams of starting your own business but are apprehensive about when and where to begin, we can help. In this blog, we will familiarize you with some resources and organizations that are dedicated specifically to supporting and funding the ventures of Canadian women entrepreneurs. Along with services from provincial and federal governments, there are also nationwide organizations that exist specifically to help women entrepreneurs and organizations whose sole mission it is to help support startups and grassroots businesses in Canada.
Funding and Support: Startup Canada
While this entrepreneur-focused organization doesn’t necessarily focus on women, they do provide support, foster collaboration, and build networks among all Canadian entrepreneurs. The organization also provides some funding opportunities, including a few that are specifically directed at women, such as the Startup Canada Women Entrepreneurship Fund.
Funding: Ontario Business Loans and Grants
For Ontario residents, the provincial government has 35 grants and five Ontario business startup loans available, as well as 22 other support programs dedicated to providing assistance to small businesses. Over-all, there's about $25 million worth of grants and loans available, with the average amount for each business being about $70,000.
In total, there are 192 grant, loan, and support programs in Canada that are available through local, provincial, and federal governments.
Canada Business Network promotes entrepreneurship and innovation, and provides assistance through an organized network of service centers across Canada. There is a center in each province and territory. The organization runs some special programs for women entrepreneurs based in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Manitoba and British Colombia. These are meant to help with loans, advice, training, referrals and more to start, grow or start, expand or buy a business.
Funding: Micro-Lending for Entrepreneurs
Microloans are small loans that have short-term and low interest rates, and that typically don’t exceed $35,000, though many available in Canada are less than $20,000.
Microloans are often reserved for startups and self-employed people, and there are a number of micro-lending options for women entrepreneurs in Canada, including:
- Ontario microloans that are often awarded to Francophones, youths, new Canadians, visible minorities, seniors, low-income citizens, and others
- Western Economic Diversification Canada loans for small businesses in Edmonton, Vancouver, Victoria, Regina, Saskatoon, and Winnipeg
- Access Community Capital Fund loans for entrepreneurs in the Greater Toronto Area who have no collateral or credit history
- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency loans through their Seed Capital Initiative
Funding and Support: The Women’s Enterprise Center
The Women’s Enterprise Center is one of the best small business networks for women in Canada because it’s focused specifically on resources for women entrepreneurs. They host programs and are a support organization for women entrepreneurs, they provide funding and startup assistance, and they have a great number of resources for small business owners, including mentorship programs, business planning and operation, help with buying and selling a business, market research, and marketing.
The National Women’s Business Council estimates that there are more than 821,000 female entrepreneurs in Canada. If you are considering joining that burgeoning breed, click below and download WSI’s entrepreneurship guide to get some great tips on where to get started,