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News Briefs

Minister Ng Launches Call for Applications to Deliver the Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative 

As Canada works to finish the fight against COVID-19, the government is committed to ensuring a strong, inclusive economic recovery that addresses systemic gaps and empowers women in the economy.

The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, announced a call for applications to deliver the Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative (IWVCI). This is a new $15 million investment under the $6 billion Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.

Women-owned businesses currently receive just 2.8 percent of venture capital (VC) funding available worldwide, and an estimated 4 percent of VC funding in Canada. Women are also under-represented among equity investors. They represent only 15.2 percent of Canadian VC partners and 16.7 percent of Canadian angel investors.

Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative

The IWVCI is a three-year program to build a more inclusive VC environment for Canadian women entrepreneurs. It will support projects that help strengthen the capacity of women entrepreneurs to access VC funding, contribute to increasing the representation of women in the VC industry or help ensure that the VC industry is sensitive to gender and potential unconscious bias.

Looking for additional funding opportunities? Check out these 16 resources on Lioness.

Eligible focus areas for projects include:

  • providing education and training to support equitable access to funding and/or promote related practices in the VC industry
  • engaging investors to better understand, adapt to and work with women entrepreneurs or their businesses
  • helping women entrepreneurs better understand and access available financing options
  • supporting efforts to advance and increase the representation of women in roles such as investors and fund managers
  • fostering networking or mentoring models to improve access to capital for women entrepreneurs and their businesses
  • demonstrating support and making contributions in other areas to strengthen the network of women and diverse entrepreneurship organizations in Canada

Applications are open to Canadian not-for-profit organizations. Applications from organizations working in partnership are also welcome. For further details on eligibility and the application process, see the IWVCI application guide.

The IWVCI builds on the historic investments the Government of Canada has made to support women since 2015. These include implementing the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, legislating pay equity, providing special funding to support women entrepreneurs during the pandemic, enhancing the Canada Child Benefit and establishing $10-a-day child care across the country.

“Our government is committed to removing systemic barriers and empowering women entrepreneurs, and this investment is another step in moving the dial. The new Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative will help women entrepreneurs access available financing to grow and scale their businesses,” says The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development

Quick facts

  • The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a more than $6-billion investment, includes:
    • the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, which will facilitate women entrepreneurs’ access to additional affordable microloans through existing loan programs;
    • the WES Ecosystem Fund, which is helping remove barriers to the support networks and deliver the resources that women entrepreneurs need to start up, scale up and access new markets
    • the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which has brought together 10 regional hubs, over 300 organizations and thousands of women entrepreneurs to create a more inclusive and supportive environment to grow women’s entrepreneurship in Canada.
  • The government is also investing in removing systemic barriers faced by diverse entrepreneurs through programs like the Black Entrepreneurship Program.
  • To ensure women have equal access to opportunities from international investment, Canada is taking an inclusive approach to trade. This means integrating gender-related provisions in all its free trade agreements. The government has also co-signed the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement—a stand-alone initiative open to other economies to join.
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