Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, Mary Ng, today announced the federal government is investing $2.5 million CAD into SheEO, a Toronto-based organization supporting women-led businesses in Canada and globally.
The funding is a part of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund, which plans to invest $85 million over five years to close gaps in service for women entrepreneurs. As part of the federal government’s strategy to foster women-led or women-owned businesses, Minister Ng is tasked with doubling the number of female entrepreneurs by 2025.
“SheEO will contribute to removing the barriers women entrepreneurs report facing and accelerate the growth of women-led enterprises.”
“Today’s investment by the Government of Canada in SheEO will contribute to removing the barriers women entrepreneurs report facing and accelerate the growth of women-led enterprises,” said Wendy Cukier, founder of Ryerson University’s Diversity Institute. “We look forward to continuing to collaborate with SheEO through the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub as we identify, develop, and leverage research and build a network of networks to bolster diverse women entrepreneurship in Canada and build an inclusive innovation ecosystem.”
SheEO, launched in 2015, brings together 500 women, called activators, in each year’s cohort, who contribute $1,100. The money is pooled together and loaned out at zero percent interest to five women-led ventures selected by the activators.
The loans are paid back over five years and then loaned out again. The 500 women activators in each cohort become the ‘team’ of the five selected ventures bringing their buying power, expertise, their network, and advice to help scale the businesses.
“This government’s new approach to funding organizations building strong ecosystems to grow women entrepreneurs’ impact is not only unique and perfectly timed. It’s a model for the rest of the world,” said SheEO founder Vicki Saunders. “We are excited to be part of their strategy and inspired by Minister Ng’s vision to grow Canada’s economy and export Canadian women’s innovations around the world.”
Last month, the federal government announced an initial $20 million CAD investment from its Women Entrepreneurship Fund. The $2 billion fund was announced in 2018, and 20 companies out of 200 have been announced to receive up to $100,000 in funding.
“A male entrepreneur making a pitch for funding will be successful 68 percent of the time. Women making the same pitch will be successful 32 percent of the time,” said Minister Ng. “Our government believes that women’s economic empowerment is not just the right thing to do, it’s good for the bottom line.”
Update: This story has been updated to reflect that the Women Entrepreneurship Fund has now announced 20 of the companies receiving funding.
Image courtesy Vicki Saunders via Twitter.