Government adds $10 million to Women Entrepreneurship Fund to support 100 more projects

Minister Mary Ng

The federal government is investing an additional $10 million to bolster the Women Entrepreneurship Fund (WEF), and will support 100 more projects from among the proposals received during the application process that took place in the fall. This brings the funds total value to $30 million.

“Our government believes that women’s economic empowerment is not just the right thing to do; it’s good for the bottom line.”

The government said the new investment stems from a high volume of WEF applicants from the fall. Of the net new $10 million, $2.5 million will be dedicated to project proposals submitted by Indigenous women. The WEF is part of the broader Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a $2 billion investment looking to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.

“Our government believes that women’s economic empowerment is not just the right thing to do; it’s good for the bottom line,” said Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion. “That’s why we launched the [WES], a strategy that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by increasing their access to financing, networks, and advice. It’s a smart investment with an economic and social return.”

A post by online feminist entrepreneurship community LiisBeth said applicants for funding received either three responses from the WEF: one that informed the applicant they were reviewed for funding, one that rejected the applicant due to “incredible demand,” and one that rejected the applicant due to ineligibility. BetaKit has now confirmed that the Ministry of Small Business and Export Promotion did send out three different responses and those businesses rejected due to “incredible demand” are now eligible to receive part of the new funding and do not need to reapply. The money allotted for Indigenous entrepreneurs will also be chosen from the lot of existing eligible applicants.

BetaKit has also learned that the WEF had more than 3,000 applicants overall, with approximately 2,000 applicants eligible to receive the funding. Essentially the next ‘most eligible’ 100 applicants will be the ones to receive a portion of the additional $10 million. The Ministry did not indicate when those announcements would be going out.

RELATED: Women Entrepreneurship Fund announces Alberta recipients

Minister Ng also announced an investment of up to $4.6 million in three BC-based women-led organizations through the WES Ecosystem Fund, which the government said will help close existing gaps for women in the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The Women’s Enterprise Centre, based in Kelowna, will receive $2.7 million from the regional stream of the WES Ecosystem Fund. The centre aims to help BC women start and scale their own business through loans of up to $150,000, business workshops, and mentorship.

S.U.C.C.E.S.S., also based in Vancouver, will receive $1.5 million from the same regional stream of the WES Ecosystem Fund. The goal of the organization is to promote the wellbeing of “Canadians and immigrants of Chinese and other ethnic origins,” and to encourage their full participation in community affairs in the spirit of multiculturalism.

The Vancouver-based Groundswell Education Society will receive $400,000. Groundswell, which calls itself Vancouver’s “alternative business school,” supports a community of artists, educators, health and wellness practitioners, designers, performers, and professionals. The society aims to support social ventures and a holistic approach to education.

“The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring the full and equal participation of women in our economy and society,” said Hedy Fry, Member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre. “Today’s investments will help women-led businesses across British Columbia innovate, grow and export to new markets.”

Finally, Minister Ng announced an investment of nearly $1.5 million in 15 women-led companies in the Vancouver area through the WEF, which will receive an investment of up to $100,000 each.

One notable tech company is VanHack, which helps technology professionals and software engineers who are interested in working abroad or employing top talent. VanHack targets engineers, developers, designers, illustrators, as well as marketing and sales professionals who are interested in jobs that are open to hiring from abroad.

Another is Ecoation, which has developed a fully autonomous scout robot that monitors the health of plants. It recently received a different government investment of $3 million to increase the crop yield of greenhouse growers. Jane Software, a cloud-based clinic management software company, which recently closed $2 million in debt financing from CIBC Innovation Banking, was also listed as one of the companies to receive a WEF investment.

The remaining Vancouver-based companies slated to receive up to $100,000 are:

Applications for the Women Entrepreneurship Fund took place in late 2018. The funding is not specific to any one sector, but Minister Ng has previously told BetaKit that many women working in tech and manufacturing will be part of this funding initiative.

The list of successful applicants can be found here.

Image courtesy Minister Ng via Facebook

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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