As the lack of representation of women in tech companies continues to be a major conversation in Canada’s tech community, many entrepreneurs have been stepping up to do something about it.
The Canadian Entrepreneurship Initiative is one such initiative that recently launched to “change the face of Canadian entrepreneurship.” In a survey with 2,000 Canadians released by CEI, most Canadians identified Canada’s top entrepreneurs as men, such as Alexander Graham Bell, Conrad Black, and Tim Horton. CEI says this indicates that Canada’s view on entrepreneurship is outdated and male-dominated.
“I founded this initiative because I wish this program had been there for me as I was growing up in Trois-Rivières,” said Canadian Entrepreneurship Initiative founder Ruma Bose. “I see so much incredible Canadian potential that could be unleashed if our culture was more supportive of entrepreneurship.”
Watching @rumabose from @CanadaTREPS moderating a panel on empowering women entrepreneurs. #Canada2020 pic.twitter.com/bWM550uJ7v
— Annie Crombie (@rethinkca) June 16, 2017
The Initiative will have an initial focus on supporting women-led enterprises through its Amplify program. Amplify includes a partnership with Clearbanc to provide preferential funding terms for existing women-led small businesses, giving 200 women-led SMEs provided access to an annual Shopify subscriptions, masterclasses from Virgin Startup, and a partnership with BlogHer.com to amplify these stories.
“I’ve seen through my own journey, from building companies to being a Dragon, that we need more support for entrepreneurs. They are the rock stars that will build Canada’s future and need to be celebrated,” said Michele Romanow, founder of Clearbanc.
Celebrating entrepreneurs and dancing on tables in Ottawa: https://t.co/MwQyQUy6Sk @CanadaTREPS pic.twitter.com/4Cm1kCkSK2
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) June 16, 2017
The Initiative officially launched yesterday at Shopify’s Ottawa headquarters, and included a panel with Bose, Romanow, Virgin founder Richard Branson, Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke, and SheEO founder Vicki Saunders.
During the panel, Lütke said that a majority of Shopify businesses on the Shopify platform are run by women, but the stores run by men are still more successful.
“What that reveals to me is that the difference is not in ambition… there’s simply a larger support network that’s available to men,” he said.
The initiative has also committed to generally support several programs for SMB growth, including increased access to online support and capital investment for small and medium-sized businesses. The goal is to act as a convening force to draw attention to Canada’s entrepreneurial story.
CEI has also opened nominations for its 100 fresh faces of Canadian Entrepreneurship, which asks local communities to nominate local business people that should be featured in its social media channels.
Photo via Ottawa Business Journal