Minister of Small Business and Tourism Bardish Chagger and Kitchener Centre MP Raj Saini today announced a non-repayable contribution of up to $880,000 for Communitech through FedDev Ontario. The funding is specifically meant to support women-led businesses in the Waterloo Region.
With the funding, Communitech plans to establish its Fierce Founders Accelerator program, a seed funding program that will support 20 women-led early-stage businesses. At the moment, Communitech already offers a six-day Fierce Founders Bootcamp, which works with entrepreneurs on customer validation, business fundamentals and refining your pitch, all while making valuable connections.
“Diverse companies are proven to be more successful. Women make up thirty percent of students entering engineering programs at the University of Waterloo, and it’s continuing to rise,” said Iain Klugman, president and CEO Communitech. “There’s no reason why we can’t see the same amount of women starting companies here. This program is one extra step to encourage that.”
The project was funded through FedDev Ontario’s Investing in Business Innovation initiative, which provides funding to not-for-profit organizations that provide skills development and seed financing to new entrepreneurs, early stage businesses, and angel networks.
During the announcement, Chagger mentioned the government’s budget announcement of $800 million over four years towards innovation networks and clusters, and noted that the government is working with the private sector to make it a reality. “A huge part of my job is help to create the conditions for our small business leaders to succeed. We know these companies are key to economic growth,” Chagger said. “Also highlighted in the budget is the government’s commitment to encourage more women in senior decision making positions, to increase the representation of women in sectors where they have historically been underrepresented.”
Chagger noted the significance of the program in the context of Ontario’s funding ecosystem: “This program is especially important as it’s one of the first startup seed funding initiatives in Ontario that specifically targets women-led early stage businesses in the tech sector specifically.”
Photo credit Karel Vuong