Resources for Women Founders in Ontario
March is Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the contributions of women throughout history and to highlight the ongoing struggle for gender equality. One area where women have made significant strides in recent years is in the business world. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of achieving true gender parity in entrepreneurship. In this article, we will explore the importance of having women in business and provide some tips on how to support women entrepreneurs.
Why Women in Business Matter
A 2019 report by McKinsey & Company found that advancing gender equality could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025. This is because women make up half of the world’s population and therefore have significant purchasing power. When women are able to participate fully in the economy, it benefits everyone.
But it’s not just about the economic benefits. Having more women in business also promotes diversity and inclusion. Women bring different perspectives, experiences, and ideas to the table, which can lead to more innovative solutions and better decision-making. In addition, having women in leadership positions can serve as a role model for future generations and help break down gender stereotypes.
Challenges Facing Women Entrepreneurs
Despite the progress that has been made, women entrepreneurs still face significant barriers. One of the biggest challenges is access to funding. According to a 2020 report by Crunchbase, women founders received just 2.3% of the total venture capital funding in 2020. In addition, women entrepreneurs often face a lack of representation and support. This can include everything from difficulty finding mentors and networking opportunities to dealing with bias and discrimination in the workplace.
How to Support Women Entrepreneurs
There are several ways to support Women entrepreneurs. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Invest in women-led companies. If you have the means, consider investing in women-led companies or supporting crowdfunding campaigns for women entrepreneurs. This can help provide the funding they need to get their businesses off the ground.
- Advocate for policies that support women entrepreneurs. Write to your elected officials and encourage them to support policies that promote gender equality in entrepreneurship, such as increased funding for women-led companies or initiatives to address bias and discrimination in the workplace.
- Shop at women-owned businesses. When you’re making purchasing decisions, consider supporting women-owned businesses. This can help promote economic opportunities for women and help them succeed in the business world.
See below for a list of resources for Women Entrepreneurs.
Women Entrepreneurship Strategy
The Canadian government is advancing women’s economic empowerment with the first ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), representing nearly $7 billion in investments and commitments. WES aims to increase women-owned businesses’ access to the financing, talent, networks and expertise they need to start up, scale up and access new markets.
For more information, refer to the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Website.
Startup Women 2023
Startup Women stands with women-identifying entrepreneurs to help support their growth and goals. This program is designed for early stage entrepreneurs, giving them the building blocks they’ll need to start and grow the business of their dreams, with guidance from topic-focused webinars, industry advisory circles, and interactive 1:1 meetings with Startup Women leaders.
For more information, refer to the Startup Women Website.
The Firehood was established in response, to support women in Canada to increase their participation, leadership and prosperity in the tech ecosystem. The Firehood will bring women together to network with technology professionals, gain access to mentorship, build leadership acumen through specialized training, and increase personal prosperity as technologists, angels, founders and ultimately, accredited investors.
For more information, refer to the Firehood Website.
Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC) is proud to deliver the WEOC National Loan Program, which will support women and non-binary entrepreneurs as they start, scale, grow and maintain their businesses. WEOC takes a different approach to setting you up for continued growth and success by providing robust wrap-around services to guide you through the process. Before applying for a loan, you will work closely with a Loan Fund Partner to develop a business plan describing the viability and feasibility or your business.
For more information, refer to the WEOC Website.
The Scotiabank Women Initiative
Scotiabank provides equal access to capital and tailored solutions, including ESG-focused services, for women. They offer resources, tools, and workshops to advance women’s careers and elevate skills, financial confidence, and technical expertise. Additionally, they provide inclusive, women-centric advisory services and mentorship that connect women with peers, tailored development opportunities, and expert mentors.
For more information, refer to the Scotiabank Women Initiative Website.
Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH)
This site allows you to search through an extensive database of organizations supporting women entrepreneurs across Canada. Browse through data, statistics, research, news, events & more.
For more information, refer to the WEKH Website.
ELLA is Ontario’s first accelerator focused on supporting women-led product and service-based businesses. They bring together entrepreneurs, mentors, industry experts, and supporters that believe in their mission of helping women rise in entrepreneurship. ELLA provides tailored training and support programs that women entrepreneurs need, 100% free of cost. They’ve considered industry, stage of business, growth goals and more.
For more information about ELLA and their customized programs, refer to the York U ELLA Website.
SheBoot is an Ottawa-based six-week bootcamp that prepares founders to pitch their business and secure investment. To date, SheBoot has graduated two cohorts and awarded over $300,000 of funds to women entrepreneurs building exciting, scalable businesses. This bootcamp was built by Invest Ottawa in collaboration with Capital Angel Network to help scalable technology and technology-enabled women-led businesses tackle tough challenges such as access to capital and mentors.
For more information, refer to the SheBoot Website.
Thrive Venture Fund & Lab for Women
The Thrive Venture Fund is making direct investments in women-led technology businesses at the seed and Series A/B stages. Their goal: to partner with promising women-led businesses across all industries and sectors for the long term, unlocking their potential to build disruptive companies that will change the world. The Thrive Lab will serve women-led companies with promising business models and growth potential that may not necessarily be on a traditional path to securing venture capital investment. Delivered in collaboration with ecosystem partners, it fills important financing gaps at the earliest stages of development to empower women to launch or grow a business.
To learn more, click here.
The Women Founders Launchpad is a DMZ platform created by women tech founders and designed to exclusively support women-identifying entrepreneurs in Canada and around the world. Launchpad is both a skills development platform and a powerful network of women founders and aspiring entrepreneurs in the tech field. The platform hosts curated learning content and monthly events that cater specifically to women entrepreneurs’ unique needs and experiences. Course materials and workshops are self-paced and give founders the practical skills and strategies needed to succeed in entrepreneurship. Sessions are tactical, authentic, and provide valuable insight on topics such as product development, securing your first customers, building an online presence, raising capital through, seeking alternative sources of funding, mental health, self-care, and more.
For more information, refer to the LaunchPad Website.
Female Funders offers an investor accelerator program that gives corporate and tech leaders the knowledge, access, and network needed to become successful early-stage investors. Through this program, you should develop a deep understanding of the angel investing world, join a global network of aspiring and experienced investors, receive access to pre-screened investment opportunities, pool resources alongside experienced investors & more.
To learn more, visit the Female Funders Website.
Standup Ventures invests in seed-stage, for-profit technology companies with at least one woman in a C-level leadership position within the company who has an equitable amount of ownership. They are dedicated to curious, confident, and fearless entrepreneurs building ground-breaking technology companies.
For more information, refer to the Standup Ventures Website.
Backbone Angels is a collective of women in tech who are united around the same goal: funding – and empowering founders, businesses, and ideas that are often overlooked. You may find that only one or all ten Backbone Angels will choose to invest capital in your business, but the benefit is that if even one of us invests, founders will have access to the expertise of the full collective. Backbone Angels can help you scale using the experience and expertise we have acquired over many years of working at the forefront of a fast-paced, cutting edge industry and as founders ourselves.
To learn more, visit the Backbone Angels Website.
Women Business Enterprises Canada
Women Business Enterprises Canada (WBE) aims to build and grow a strong Canadian ecosystem that connects women-owned businesses to procurement opportunities through advocacy, certification, development, and promotion. WBE Canada certifies Canadian businesses 51% or more owned, managed and controlled by women, and helps them access opportunities with larger corporate and government buyers. If you are not ready for a WBE Canada certification, WBE supports all women-owned businesses through their Pathfinder program that provides resources, networking, and mentorship opportunities.
For more information, refer to the WBE Website.
Interested in becoming an Angel Investor?
If the idea of joining a community of professionals and industry leaders, investing in innovating start-ups, and providing mentorship to promising entrepreneurs interests you, click here to learn more.