A few days ago, we celebrated International Women’s Day, recognizing the contributions women have made towards thriving communities. Women entrepreneurs in particular is an area that continues to experience exponential growth. Canadian women ranked first globally in involvement with new businesses, according to the GEM Canada Report on Women’s Entrepreneurship.
It is through the creation of supportive environments and a multitude of resources that Canadian women have been empowered to ‘earn on their own terms’. We’ve compiled a list of fantastic resources for Canadian women entrepreneurs with the hope that it will enable us all to succeed together.
Femmessor contributes to the development of women entrepreneurs by providing financial services and coaching support.
A non-profit organization mandated to help Indigenous women entrepreneurs find recognition and community. Their Incubator Project is a support program that will help two startups owned by Indigenous women access the tools needed to succeed.
PARO empowers women to pursue new business opportunities or grow their existing ones. They help entrepreneurs get started, access financial resources, join networks, and share their success stories.
PEIBWA represents a network of women entrepreneurs across PEI. It aims to empower new and established entrepreneurs through this network.
Women in Business aims to help women entrepreneurs reach their full potential by offering counseling and services that are tailored to the three stages of a venture: startup, growth, and export.
The WEI was established by Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) to help women entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Specifically, they provide entrepreneurs with capital, skills training, workshops, advising, practical resources, and mentorship opportunities.
There are four WEI offices in Western Canada:
This hub connects women entrepreneurs to a multitude of resources, enabling them to expand into global markets. Their services include funding programs, international trade events, and exporting guides. They also connect women entrepreneurs to award opportunities and many associations to join.
EDC helps Canadian led businesses go global through financial solutions— including an investment program— and a wealth of knowledge. Their Women in Trade program has made $100 million available for women-led businesses seeking to scale up, while also demonstrating a commitment to gender equity.
Each year, the AWE hosts an awards celebration and dinner. Awards presented include Emerging Entrepreneur, Indigenous Entrepreneur, Upsurge Entrepreneur and Celebration of Achievement Award.
The RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards is a premiere national awards program that recognizes the achievements of women entrepreneurs. Over the past 28 years, over 40, 000 women have been nominated for the RBC awards and over 180 awards have been presented for entrepreneurial achievement.
Networking & Associations
This program identifies ambitious women entrepreneurs via nomination and invites them to join their network of top-performing women founders. They provide year-round programming and resources to their network and host an annual Strategic Growth Forum for top business leaders and entrepreneurs.
The Vancouver-based charity educates women in entrepreneurship in many aspects including how to create a pitch, grow HR, sales, and leadership skills. They offer a four-part Pitch for the Purse program which mentors women seeking to raise capital for their venture. According to the FWE, their grads are 3x more likely to be in business after 5 years than the national average.
Mompreneurs supports, educates, and promotes women entrepreneurs. Membership includes access to events, online courses, mentorship sessions, an online women’s club, and online directory listing to boost your online presence.
WEOC is an association of organizations that provides services to women business owners. Membership provides opportunities for collaboration and access to financial resources, programming, and best practices.
WEKH is a national network and digital platform that encourages the collaborative sharing of research and data, resources, and strategies. WEKH is partnered with 75 organizations across the country and is supported by the Government of Canada.
BDC is the only bank in Canada that is dedicated exclusively to small businesses. They are committed supporters of women entrepreneurs, providing networking and learning opportunities in addition to financing and venture capital options. They also provide loans for New Canadian and Indigenous entrepreneurs.
Although BDC helps entrepreneurs of all industries, it also boasts one of the largest funds for women-led tech businesses. This fund works through direct investment, indirect investment, and ecosystem development.
Made possible by a donation from CIBC and the Indigenous Women’s Leadership Summit, the IWEF is a micro-finance program for Indigenous women-owned businesses.
For low-income women, this program focuses on financial literacy training and mentoring to teach the necessary skills women need to succeed. Those who take the time to learn the skills through the program will be eligible for microloans to start their business.
SheEO’s mission is to support, finance, and celebrate women from a place of radical generosity. Through their network of Activators, SheEO is able to provide 0% interest loans for women-led ventures that aim to better the world. Each year, SheEo hosts a global summit that brings together and celebrates women-led ventures.
Startup Canada started the Women’s Founders Fund to support women entrepreneurs in STEM. The fund provides micro-grants to women-led companies to help them grow their businesses. In 2019, the fund received more than 200 applications from businesses across the country.
The Thrive Podcast for Women Entrepreneurs is produced by StartUp Canada in partnership with Scotiabank and BDC. Thrive seeks to create a community of support by connecting women entrepreneurs to leading experts and the tools and training needed to grow.
By the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, this podcast is produced in collaboration with the Scotiabank Women Initiative. The podcast is produced every two weeks and covers topics from fundraising or branding to social impact and more.
Empowering women in agriculture and agribusiness, the FCC aims to increase access to capital, access to skill development, and access to people to learn from. They offer a one-time loan up to $1000 for skill development.
WBE Canada is a non-profit that connects women-owned businesses to corporate and government supply chains across North America. WBE also offers certification for Canadian businesses that are owned, managed, and controlled by a majority of women.