The Government of Canada has invested $4 million to support over 700 women-led small to medium-sized businesses in southern Ontario, in a project it has billed the Rebuild Reopen Revive Initiative (RE3).
“With reduced revenues and financial hardships of COVID-19, women-led businesses need support more than ever.”
This federal funding, through FedDev Ontario, comes from the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF).
As part of RE3, the federal government has awarded the Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (Northumberland CFDC) and the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation (WindsorEssex EDC) $2 million apiece.
This investment will allow the organizations to distribute non-repayable contributions of up to $5,000 to women entrepreneurs, to help with “key reopening expenditures,” such as the purchase of personal protective equipment, reconfiguring workplaces to make them safer, and building online capacity.
“With reduced revenues and financial hardships of COVID-19, women-led businesses need support more than ever, as they face new challenges and expenses associated with reopening their businesses and preparing for recovery,” said Mélanie Joly, Canada’s minister of economic development, who is responsible for FedDev Ontario.
“The investments of over $4 million today will help to relieve some of the pressure as women-led businesses reopen and position themselves for a successful and stable future,” she added.
In its announcement, the federal government acknowledged that COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women-led businesses. It cited three key reasons why:
women-led businesses tend to be smaller and thus more sensitive to changes in the economy, women are particularly well-represented in the country’s hardest-hit sectors (from retail to hospitality and service), and face greater barriers in accessing capital and financial services.
“We are very pleased to be working with multiple ecosystem partners across Eastern Ontario to make sure women-led businesses are fully empowered in rebuilding, reopening and reviving,” said Wendy Curtis, executive director of the Northumberland CFDC. “These pivotal initiatives are perfectly timed to remove barriers and add value.”
The Northumberland CFDC is a Cobourg, Ontario-based organization that provides financing and strategy support for entrepreneurs. It delivers FedDev Ontario funded programs and manages its own investment portfolio.
“[We] recognize the challenges that women-led businesses are facing amidst the COVID-19 crisis,” said Stephen MacKenzie, president and CEO of the WindsorEssex EDC. “We are excited about the opportunity to work with our community partners to deliver the Rebuild Reopen Revive Initiative across southwestern Ontario and help women-led SMEs at this critical time.”
The WindsorEssex EDC is a not-for-profit supported by the City of Windsor and County of Essex. Its main focus is to retain, attract, and support new businesses in the region.
The RRRF is a national fund delivered through Canada’s regional development agencies (RDAs), designed to support small to medium-sized businesses across Canada unable to access existing COVID-19 relief measures.
FedDev Ontario is a Government of Canada RDA focused on promoting innovation and business growth in southern Ontario. Through the RRRF, the agency is providing $213 million in short-term financial relief to businesses in the region.
The federal government claims that, since November 2015, FedDev Ontario has invested over $182 million in 181 projects in support of women entrepreneurship.
Image source Dan Burton via Unsplash