TORONTO - Yesterday, the world celebrated International Women’s Day. It is a day to recognize and draw attention to the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world.
Supporting women in business is yet another way to spur innovation, job creation and productivity growth in the economy.
Passionate, confident and committed are some characteristics that describe an entrepreneur. Starting, owning or growing a business can be a rewarding endeavour, but can also be a challenging one.
Covid-19 has exacted numerous challenges for the business community, especially among small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
While there is a lack of comprehensive data on business ownership by gender, a Survey on Financing and Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises 2017, by Statistics Canada suggests 15.6% of SMEs were majority owned by women.
That is roughly one-quatre the rate represented by men (63.5% of SMEs were majority owned by men - graphic below).
Women and diverse entrepreneurs bring new ideas, products and services that enhance economic development. In 2020, women account for over 38% of self-employed Canadians or 1.08 million persons (Statistics Canada).
Promoting business ownership among women and improving the performance of womenowned enterprises fuel individual economic empowerment and strengthen gender equality in leadership roles.
Canada recognizes the critical role women entrepreneurs play in the economic success of communities across the country. Multiple studies suggest the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on women business owners.
The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund is part of the government’s plan to help support women entrepreneurs facing hardship due to the pandemic.
On March 4, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced the $4.8 million in top-up funding to organizations that help women business owners adapt and grow throughout the crisis.
“Women entrepreneurs have faced unique challenges during this pandemic”, Minister Ng said in Thursday’s press release. “I am thrilled our government is able to provide these critical investments so women-led businesses can continue contributing to Canada’s economic future”, she added.
Communities around the nation rally to boost women’s entrepreneurship. In Mississauga, the City’s Economic Development Office is hosting a virtual Women’s Entrepreneur Conference (March 9) to offer insight to female entrepreneurs and ways to adapt during times of change.
Through collective efforts and by promoting access to finance, markets, leadership opportunities and networks, women can help build a stronger, more robust economy.