The federal government is injecting $20 million into a fund for women-led Canadian technology startups.
Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is boosting its $50-million Women in Tech investment program to a $70-million fund to be invested over five years.
“With the additional investment announced today, BDC’s funding envelope to support Women in Tech becomes the largest of its kind in North America,” said Bardish Chagger, minister of small business and tourism in a release.
Minister Chagger noted there is “still much work to do,” but the government recognizes the untapped potential of women entrepreneurs and is building on its $700-million, three-year commitment in 2015 to support women-led businesses. BDC has since surpassed this goal, lending $809 million to majority female-owned firms to date.
“I am proud of the fact that today, women have more resources than ever to scale their companies, help grow the economy, and create good-paying middle class jobs for Canadians,” Chagger said.
Managed by BDC Capital, the technology fund for women-led firms will see $60 million directly invested in their startups and the remaining $10 million for indirect investments in regional initiatives. The equity investments can complement seed funding and both Series A or Series B rounds in addition to financing from accelerator partners, investors and other corporate venture partners.
“BDC has a bold vision: To foster the creation of the next generation of successful Canadian women technology entrepreneurs,” said Michelle Scarborough, BDC’s managing director of strategic investments and women in tech.
“We believe it is our combination of smart capital, entrepreneurial thinking, strong relationships, and a long term approach that will help women tech entrepreneurs build and scale the next generation of companies,” she added.
So far, BDC has invested nearly $3 million in nine women-led tech early-stage companies, including Toronto’s Nudge Rewards, Kitchener-based Bridgit, and Waterloo’s Plum.
Nudge’s female co-founder Lindsey Goodchild and Nessy Daskalov recently disclosed they captured a $5-million funding round, one of the largest Series A investments ever raised by female founders in Canada.