This week, the Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, hosted the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurs Forum in Ottawa.
The forum brought together 300 women from across the country to participate in a day-and-a-half program of inspiring role models, practical workshops, and networking and mentorship opportunities for women starting or growing a business.
During the event it was announced that the Business Development Bank of Canada has earmarked $700 million of existing funding over three years to finance women-owned businesses.The funding will provide up to 400 additional loans to businesses majority-owned by women seeking financing over the next three years, according to BDC.
“Our Government knows that when women succeed, Canada succeeds,” said Leitch. “We are taking action to support women-owned businesses. Women entrepreneurs and women in business have enormous potential and we are supporting them as they create the kind of jobs, growth, and long term prosperity that our Government wishes to see across the country.”
RBC Economics reports that as of 2011, the contribution of majority-owned women’s businesses to the Canadian economy was an estimated $148 billion. RBC also estimates that a 10% increase in the number of majority-owned women’s businesses over 10 years would bring their total economic contribution to $198 billion.
The Government of Canada has provided over $153 million in funding through Status of Women Canada to support more than 750 projects since 2007. Of this amount, over $12 million has been for projects which address women’s entrepreneurship.
“The health and long-term success of women-owned businesses is critical to Canada’s economic prosperity,” said Jean-René Halde, CEO of BDC. “BDC will ensure that additional financial and ongoing support for this growing market segment is made available. The naming of a national champion is the first step in this endeavor.”