MARKHAM, ON, Sept. 18, 2020 /CNW/ - Canadian women entrepreneurs are key to our economic success as a country, and are critical to key sectors like technology. However, women today still face unique and systemic barriers to starting and growing a business – and these challenges have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Government of Canada is investing in women entrepreneurs to help them overcome these challenges and position them for a stable, successful future.
Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, virtually visited ventureLAB, where she announced a $370,000 investment to support women entrepreneurs for Tech Undivided, as part of the Government's recent top-up of $15 million to Canada's first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund.
With this investment, to be delivered through FedDev Ontario, ventureLAB's Tech Undivided program will support women entrepreneurs in the tech sector to generate revenue and investment capital, by putting them on a sustainable path to growth and long-term success. Areas of focus will include:
- Customer acquisition – ventureLAB will plan and deliver three curated virtual business-to-business customer matchmaking events to provide female-founded tech companies with strategically aligned connections and introductions to potential customers.
- Incremental support in raising investment capital – ventureLAB will organize a series of three virtual Investor Roundtables to enable female-led companies to pitch to a group of highly curated and strategically aligned investment partners.
- Brand visibility and networking connections – ventureLAB will forge a sponsored partnership with Women of Influence to build visibility, networking opportunities and lead generation for its founders in the professional ecosystem.
- Subject matter expert advisory support – ventureLAB will provide hands-on support for entrepreneurs by engaging a pool of external subject matter experts to help improve awareness, visibility and revenue opportunities for female-led ventures, as well as assist them in developing a longer term vision and plan to build their sales teams.
During a virtual discussion with women entrepreneurs in the Tech Undivided program, Minister Ng heard first-hand about how the program has helped them scale their tech companies, increase the number of women entrepreneurs in tech, and strengthen Canada's global competitiveness.
The Government of Canada will continue to support women-led businesses as part of their long-standing commitment to advancing women's economic empowerment – which is key to Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. Women-led businesses provide good jobs that support families across the country, and by supporting them today, Canada will be in a stronger position as we rebuild for future success.
"Women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses – particularly those in the technology industry – face unique challenges. Our government's investment in accelerators like ventureLAB through Canada's Women Entrepreneurship Strategy will help Canadian women-led businesses to weather these challenging times, and set them up to be able to grow and thrive into the future."
- The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
"We are excited to expand our support for women entrepreneurs. Our vision for Tech Undivided is to reduce unconscious bias and create an inclusive tech ecosystem that increases representation and access to capital. Scaling tech firms, particularly those led by women, have been heavily impacted by COVID-19 — we hope that this additional investment from the Government of Canada will help women-led tech firms re-establish growth trajectories and future-proof their businesses."
- Melissa Chee, President and CEO, ventureLAB
- Located in York Region, ventureLAB's 50,000-square foot innovation hub is home to over 45 tech companies and innovation partners that employ more than 300 people. ventureLAB has supported more than 2,000 tech entrepreneurs through programs focused on capital, talent, technology, and customers, to advance Canada's economy on a local, national and global scale. The organization is working to increase the number of women-led technology companies that build software or hardware-enabled solutions.
- Through the Women Entrepreneurship Fund, the Government of Canada has invested a total of $30 million in more than 300 women-owned and led businesses across Canada to grow and reach new markets. In addition, the Government of Canada allocated $85 million to the WES Ecosystem Fund to strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem and close gaps in service for women entrepreneurs. Over 50 projects were funded through this initiative.
- In May 2020, Minister Ng announced $15 million in additional funding to support women entrepreneurs through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). The investment will support select organizations that are currently WES Ecosystem Fund recipients and will help women entrepreneurs through the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In June 2019, Minister Ng announced $5 million for ventureLAB to establish the Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI), a state-of-the-art lab and incubator to help hardware technology companies grow and scale up to become globally competitive.
SOURCE Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada