Funding to Catalyze Women-Owned Businesses

Funding opportunities for SMEs

Women around the world are increasingly taking their place in the business world and are not afraid to start their own businesses.  In an environment where women do not have much representation, (in Canada, only 16% of small and medium-sized enterprises are run by women) it can be difficult to find programs that are specifically designated for women and allow them to have the capital to start and continue to operate their businesses. Below, you will find programs that will help you start and/or grow your business or transition to a digital shift.

In 2019, the Government of Canada introduced the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), an investment of approximately $2 billion, with the goal of doubling the number of women-owned businesses by 2025. To date, the government has invested more than $6 billion in this fund.  The WES aims to help women launch and grow their businesses while improving access to the financing, networking, talent, and expertise needed to continue working on their businesses. WES offers programs such as:

  • Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund – This fund provides women entrepreneurs with loans of up to $50,000 to help them start a business, expand their activities, and access new markets. Currently, this fund does not accept applications.
  • WES Ecosystem Fund – This fund provides women entrepreneurs with a network that can provide support, mentoring, and assistance in growing their businesses. This fund is currently open and accepting applications.

During the pandemic, many programs have been put in place by the government to help businesses during these difficult and uncertain times.  In Budget 2021, $4 billion was announced for the Canada Digital Adoption Program.  This program aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises bring their business into the digital age. The way of doing business has evolved dramatically and the pandemic has only accentuated this need to be digital. With this program, small and medium-sized businesses will be able to adopt new digital tools and increase their online presence. Through Canada’s Digital Adoption Program, businesses can also receive support as well as training opportunities.

For those wishing to export their products outside of Canada, the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS), has a program called Business Women in International Trade. This program helps women-owned and women-led businesses find opportunities to expand into global markets. Services offered include:

  • The opportunity to explore new markets by meeting potential partners and buyers during an international business delegation focused on women
  • Financing programs to stimulate the international growth of the company. These may include government loans or contributions
  • The opportunity to receive assistance in exporting your products by having the right information and interacting with the right people to make informed decisions
  • Access to exclusive contracts with governments and Fortune 500 companies by certifying that the company is woman owned

For those in agriculture, Farm Credit Canada’s goal is to showcase rural Canada by providing specialized financial services to agricultural operations, including family farms. FCC has committed approximately $500 million through FCC’s Women Entrepreneur Program to provide financing, development, and resources specifically for women entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses in the agriculture, agribusiness, and agri-food sectors.

We have discussed some of the programs at the national level, but there are also programs at the provincial and local levels that help women entrepreneurs and business owners to start and/or expand their businesses. There are also foundations that help women by offering support, mentoring, providing community, and also by offering grants.



Please find more information about those programs by visiting the links below:

Women Entrepreneurship Strategy:

Canada Digital Adoption Program:

Trade Commissioner Service:

Farm Credit Canada:

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