According to a recent article written by Bernadeen McLeod, Women entrepreneurs face unique challenges when starting their own businesses. Lack of adequate information, especially related to small business financing, and a lack of female mentors are often cited as the two most important barriers. Despite these challenges women entrepreneurs are one of the fastest growing business segments in Canada.
- Women-run companies create new jobs 4 times faster than the national average
- Women create companies at double the national average
- The number of women with incorporated businesses more than doubled in the past decade
To continue this accelerated growth and to allow women entrepreneurs to remain competitive there are a number of programs available across Canada that are developed specifically to assist women in starting and running successful businesses.
RBC’s Women Entrepreneurs Programs for Small Business Owners
The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has specifically developed advice and services to meet the needs of women entrepreneurs. Financing is available through the bank as well as additional resources and expertise. Through their Small Business Financial Services Resource Centre women entrepreneurs can access a wide variety of information and assistance in starting and expanding a business as well as succession planning for their retirement. They also provide one-on-one strategic advising for women entrepreneurs to ensure that their businesses are successful.
RBC has also developed the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards allowing female entrepreneurs to celebrate one another and network. By celebrating women entrepreneurs RBC hopes to provide significant profile of the importance of female entrepreneurs on the Canadian economy.
Ontario Business Loans: Micro-lending for Women Entrepreneurs
In January 2013, the Ontario government released $760,000 for a two year program to assist more than 800 low-income women become entrepreneurs. The initiative led by the Women’s Issues Minister Laurel Broten, includes financial training and microloans of $500 to $5000. This funding has been given to a number of community organizations across Ontario to support micro-lending programs and business advisory programs to low-income women looking to start their own small businesses.
Small Business Networks for Women Entrepreneurs
In a number of Canadian provinces including Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia have Women Entrepreneur or Women Enterprise Centres. These organizations provide women starting or growing their small businesses with business services and resources to ensure they are successful. Their teams are trained to understand and related to the unique circumstanced of women business owners and typically include mentoring from other women entrepreneurs. Find additional resources here.