Canadian women entrepreneurs are key to our economic success as a country, and make invaluable contributions to our communities every day. 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, visited York University, where she announced a $281,600 investment – delivered through FedDev Ontario, the Regional Development Agency for southern Ontario – for the Entrepreneurial Leadership and Learning Alliance (ELLA), as part of the Government’s recent top-up of $15 million to Canada’s first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy’s Ecosystem Fund.
Launched in March 2020 through the Government’s initial Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund investment, the ELLA program is led by York University in partnership with the Small Business Enterprise Centers of Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan and York Region. The community accelerator provides training, advisory services, and other targeted support for women entrepreneurs in rural and urban communities.
With today’s investment, ELLA Ascend will soon launch a new initiative called the Fractional Executive Program. Through this new program, a cohort of 10 entrepreneurs and advanced ELLA participants will benefit from mentorship and coaching support to help them address challenges associated with scaling globally.
While at York University, Minister Ng had the opportunity to hear first-hand from women entrepreneurs who have been able to benefit from ELLA’s network of other female founders, top experts, mentors and supporters, who offer peer-to-peer support and mentorship through the accelerator.
Supporting Canadian women-led businesses builds on the Government of Canada’s longstanding commitment to advance women’s economic empowerment. Small businesses are the backbone of our economy – they provide good jobs that support families across the country. By supporting them today, Canada will be in a stronger position as we recover from COVID-19 and build a better future for all Canadians.
“We understand the challenges businesses are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and those challenges can be amplified for women entrepreneurs. Today’s investment for ELLA through our Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund will help our women-led businesses to weather these challenging times while preparing for future success.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
“Programs such as York University’s ‘Entrepreneurial Leadership and Learning Alliance’ are precisely why our Government created the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy. This funding will help local female entrepreneurs receive critical training to grow their flourishing businesses and expand their impact in the community, while also providing them with invaluable connections to funding and expansion opportunities. I am so glad to see the WES having a home in Humber River- Black Creek”
– The Honourable Judy Sgro, Member of Parliament for Humber River-Black Creek
“Economists and leading philanthropists agree about the importance of increasing the diversity of entrepreneurs to keep Canada competitive including the representation of women. The Government of Canada’s investment in York University’s ELLA program is a vote of confidence in this innovative program that supports women entrepreneurs in Ontario. It will empower these women to take their businesses global at this very challenging time, creating benefits for ELLA participants, their families and their communities.”
– Rhonda L. Lenton, President and Vice-Chancellor, York University
In 2018, to advance women’s economic empowerment, Minister Ng announced the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a $2-billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.
In May 2020, Minister Ng announced $15 million in additional funding to support women entrepreneurs through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy. The investment will support select organizations that are currently WES Ecosystem Fund recipients and will help women entrepreneurs through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Through two programming streams, ELLA Ascend and ELLA Altitude, the ELLA accelerator aims to provide impactful programming to women throughout the York Region, including Markham, Richmond Hill, Vaughan, and municipalities of Aurora, East Gwillimbury, King Township, Georgina, Newmarket, and Whitchurch-Stouffville.
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.
Since November 2015, the Government has invested over $207.7 million through FedDev Ontario in 297 women-owned businesses across southern Ontario.
Since November 2015, the Government has invested over $244.3 million through FedDev Ontario in 134 businesses and organizations across the Toronto region.