The Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC), which powers the Cobourg, Ont.-based accelerator Venture13, has launched an ecosystem fund for women entrepreneurs.
“This is a breakthrough, pilot initiative that will revolutionize our approach to achieving gender equity.”
The fund, called Develop, Educate, Lead, Innovate, Accelerate (DELIA), will focus on providing loans to women-owned and women-led enterprises in suburban areas in Eastern Ontario. The objective of the fund is to help women start and grow their ventures. The fund is aimed to support at least 30 businesses by 2023.
DELIA will offer applicants an AI-enabled loan automation and credit engine, which will be powered by Corl Financial Technologies, to streamline the funding. An online application provides pre-approval decisions on commercial loan applications from $25,000 to $50,000, in $5,000 increments.
The federal government has earmarked $1.5 million for the initiative through FedDev Ontario, with an additional $3 million upon successful deployment. The initiative may also receive additional funding from the Government of Canada for a nation-wide roll-out of the program, based upon successful results from the pilot project.
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“This is a breakthrough, pilot initiative that will revolutionize our approach to achieving gender equity in entrepreneurial finance and development,” said Wendy Curtis, executive director of Northumberland CFDC. “We are pleased to be leveraging Canadian FinTech innovation and partnerships to advance women’s economic empowerment, with the support of FedDev Ontario.”
DELIA will also offer skills training opportunities for a cohort of 30 ventures. Loan recipients will have access to entrepreneurial development programs and perks like will also be provided by TELUS Business Solutions and IBM Canada.
Through DELIA entrepreneurs will have access to over 200 coaching and mentoring hours, $7,500 in funded “wrap-around” services, technical group training, and “accelerator perks”. Participants will also be qualified for N100 Evolution, a $250,000 startup competition for women-owned and women-led tech businesses. Finally, participants will have access to virtual and in-person learning events at the Venture13 in Cobourg.
DELIA is part of the federal government’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a $2 billion initiative seeking to double the number of women-owned businesses in Canada. Applications for DELIA are currently open.
Image source Unsplash.