To mark International Women’s Day, the Government of Canada today announced the first successful recipients of the Women Entrepreneurship Fund, a $20 million fund that provides direct investments to women-led businesses. It is part of the larger $2-billion Women Entrepreneurship Strategy outlined in the 2018 budget.
The newly announced recipients will each receive investments of up to $100,000 to grow their businesses and reach new markets. The goal is to double the number of majority women-led businesses by 2025. Right now, fewer than 16 per cent of SMEs in Canada are led by women.
“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 Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a strategy that seeks to double the number of women-led businesses by increasing their access to financing, networks and advice. It’s a smart investment with an economic and social return.”
The recipients of funding represent several varied industries, spanning retail to tech to food service. Below are a few examples of those receiving investments up to $100,000.
- SomaDetect, a company that provides dairy farmers with the information they need to detect fat content in milk, as well as a cow’s somatic cell count, which can be a good indicator of disease. The company was founded by Bethany Deshpande and has seen a lot of success, including winning the $1 million 43North competition in 2017.
- NanoSpeed Diagnostics, a startup focusing on point of care tests for vitamin D deficiency. Dr. Seema Gupta is the president and CEO of NanoSpeed Diagnostics.
- emergiTEL, a recruitment agency providing both full-time and temporary jobs for over a decade. Aneela Zaib is the company’s founder and CEO.
The Women Entrepreneurship Fund is one of the recent initiatives meant to propel women-led businesses forward. The tech-focused Women in Tech fund, launched in 2017, has already made several investments in companies such as AvenueHQ and tealbook, while more recently, the Billion Dollar for Fund expanded to Canada to try and offer more gender representation within the country’s VC firms.