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The Government of Canada is committed to advancing gender equality, women's economic empowerment and supporting women entrepreneurs through the new Women Entrepreneurship Strategy announced in Budget 2018.

The full and equal participation of women in the economy is essential to Canada's competitiveness. Current female entrepreneurs face unique barriers as they move along the business cycle. As a result, women own fewer than 16% of businesses and are underrepresented in the economy.

By addressing women's economic empowerment through initiatives such as the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (the Strategy), Canada will have the potential to add $150 billion in incremental GDP by 2026 and reach its goal of doubling the number of majority women-owned businesses by 2025.

As part of the Strategy, the Government is making funding available directly to women entrepreneurs through the Women Entrepreneurship Fund. The objective is to provide support to women to grow their businesses and facilitate their pursuit of opportunities in markets abroad. The Fund is a $20 million investment providing up to $100,000 in non-repayable contribution funding for 12 months.

The Women Entrepreneurship Fund will fund women-owned and women-led businesses to invest in activities that focus on:

  • Supporting pursuit of market opportunities abroad (e.g. international marketing strategy, supply chain integration, promotions, business advisory services, online presence/website development)
  • Supporting Scale-up, Expansion and Growth (e.g. product/service development and improvement, inventory management, value stream mapping, upgrades to plant and equipment, process and technology improvements
  • Additional activities that support the objectives of the Women Entrepreneurship Fund

The Government of Canada invites eligible businesses to submit their innovative proposals for funding under the Women Entrepreneurship Fund.

Some key points to note:

  • will provide successful applicants up to $100,000 in non-repayable contribution funding for a 12 month project
  • eligible applicants must be a for-profit women-owned and/or women-led business with less than 500 employees
  • project outcomes should support applicants to pursue growth strategies through business scale-up or pursuit of market opportunities abroad
    • performance indicators are: 1) increase in revenue or market share, 2) increased number of jobs created, 3) improvements in process, technology or service
  • each of the following requirements must also be met in order for projects to be considered for funding:
    • reasonable expectation of economic viability
    • demonstrate economic benefits (e.g. number of jobs created or maintained by the project, impact on productivity, project-related revenue growth)
    • apply a portion of funding to access advisory services to ensure long-term success or demonstrate existing capacity
    • submit a 12-month work plan and budget, and
    • meet the minimum cost sharing/leveraging requirement (10% covered by applicant for Priority Applicants, 20% for all others)

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