CanCon Podcast Ep. 107: What if the Women in Tech fund isn’t used for women in tech?

business women

If there is one thing we can say about our federal government, it’s that it is fond of crafting narratives. With Budget 2018, there was one clear narrative for Canada’s innovation economy: more dollars for women in tech.

But not all dollars are created equal, and while the government has crafted wonderful soundbites on its commitment to innovation, it remains frustratingly shy on details.

Take the $1.4 billion earmarked for financing for women entrepreneurs. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Twice as much as the $700 million earmarked in 2015! But that $1.4 billion isn’t a net new funding commitment, it’s just the number BDC had projected to spend financing women entrepreneurs anyway. How does that number compare to the money BDC is spending financing male entrepreneurs?

Or how about BDC’s Women in Tech Fund (WiTF or WTF, depending on who you ask), which started as a $50 million, then $70 million, and now $200 million fund for “women-led technology firms?” When the fund was announced, it was presented as an extension to the 2015 commitment “to increase its term lending to majority women-owned businesses…in addition to its ongoing support to women-founded technology firms and funds.”

But ‘majority women-owned’ and ‘women-founded’ are very different than ‘women-led’. How different? According to BDC’s criteria, that means “have a woman founder, CEO, CTO, CFO or be in a key C-suite position,” which is a little broader than the narrative being presented. Now, to the fund’s credit, its first three investments have been in women-founded companies: Nudge Rewards, Bridgit, and Plum.io. But look at it this way: if Shopify was still a private company seeking venture funding, it’s new CFO would qualify the Canadian tech darling for WiTF funding. And for all Tobias Lutke has done to raise the profile of tech in this country, he shouldn’t be the face of women in tech in Canada. Same goes for any other predominantly male-led tech firm looking for funding right now.

Speaking of the face of Canadian tech, Patrick has returned from Barcelona fresh with new Mobile World Congress war stories. We go over the latest and greatest, including: the boring (in a good way!) Galaxy S9, 5G’s future, creepy Alexa laughter, and the one Apple rumour we want to be true.

Join us as the CanCon crew – Erin Bury, Managing Director of Eighty-Eight; Jessica Galang, BetaKit News Editor; Patrick O’Rourke, MobileSyrup Managing Editor; and Douglas Soltys, BetaKit Editor-in-Chief – debates the merits of 5G-powered IoT cows (seriously).

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CanCon Podcast Episode 107 (03/13/18)

Budget 2018 blowout
What to look for in #Budget2018
#Budget2018 includes focus on women entrepreneurs, $572.5 million towards big data strategy

Tech catchup with Patrick: MWC edition!
Samsung Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ Review: Standing firm
Amazon Alexa has been reportedly surprising users with a creepy laugh
Apple rumoured to release lower-cost MacBook Air this spring
Global wireless leaders speak on 5G deployment challenges, strategies at Huawei event

Canadian Content music clip (under fair dealing): “Side Tracked” by Born Ruffians
Ad music: “Dreams” by Joakim Karud

Feature image courtesy Burst.

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys is the Editor-in-Chief of BetaKit and founder of BetaKit Incorporated. He has worked for a few failed companies and written about many more. He spends too much time on the Internet.