Elevate and The Firehood receive $2.3 million in federal funding to train women leaders

Four women speak on a panel with a red backdrop that says The Firehood
Applications are open until July 5 for women investors and entrepreneurs to get a chance at a $100,000 prize.

Elevate and The Firehood have developed two eight-week interlinked workshops for women on investing and entrepreneurship.

The Women + Investor Incubator will introduce aspiring women and gender-diverse angel investors to the world of startup investment, while the Women + Entrepreneur Incubator will prepare entrepreneurs to pitch for a $100,000 cash investment prize, funded by angel investors, at Elevate Festival.

At the end of the two programs, the women entrepreneurs will pitch the women investors for the prize.

Women entrepreneurs and founders represent 40 percent of business owners, but receive under three percent of VC dollars.

“We’re looking for early-stage women and gender-diverse entrepreneurs who are building tech solutions that have the potential to scale globally,” said Danielle Graham, co-founder of The Firehood, an angel-stage fund and network focused on women in technology.

Applications for the two programs are currently open until July 5.

Overall, three cohorts will run from Aug/Sept 2023, April/May 2024 and Aug/Sept 2024, each culminating in the founders pitching to the angels from the parallel eight-week programs. The angel program continues after the pitch for ongoing support, with due diligence to close the deals.

The $2.3-million funding for the two workshops comes from the federal government’s WES Inclusive Women Capital Initiative, which provides funding over two years to strengthen and build a more inclusive venture capital environment for Canadian women.

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“The full and equal participation of women in the economy is not just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do,” Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade of Canada, Government of Canada, said, when awarding the money to Elevate and The Firehood. “By supporting initiatives that unlock opportunities for women entrepreneurs, we want to drive more funding to women-led startups and see more women participating in the investment ecosystem.”

Women entrepreneurs and investors both face disproportionate barriers to accessing critical resources necessary for the growth of their careers, businesses, and overall wealth and prosperity. Women entrepreneurs and founders represent 40 percent of business owners, yet they receive under three percent of VC dollars, according to the federal government news release about the projects.

The Firehood also carried out a cross-country tour in May and June, from Vancouver to St. John’s. During the tour they brought together early-stage women entrepreneurs and angels to build out their networks, learn from industry experts, and meet investors. Each tour stop included introductions to Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem partners; from the government to the private sector, accelerators, incubators, nonprofits, and financial institutions.

They intend to visit Quebec, the rest of Ontario, and the North later this year.

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel

Charles Mandel's reporting and writing on technology has appeared in Wired.com, Canadian Business, Report on Business Magazine, Canada's National Observer, The Globe and Mail, and the National Post, among many others. He lives off-grid in Nova Scotia.

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