Funding for Women Entrepreneurs in Canada

Note: We have already written an article on getting a grant as a woman entrepreneur in the US and a similar article for the UK, this one has been edited to be relevant for a Canadian audience, thus incorporating the resources available there.

Let’s assume that you want to start a business, and happen to be a woman – you can get a grant for realizing this dream, assuming you follow the right processes and apply to the right sources.  Women entrepreneurs face a number of difficulties in starting their own business, such as a lack of information and a lack of female mentors. This is in addition to the fact that very few women-run businesses have managed to get government contracts, and the more obvious problem of a deficiency of start-up capital.  But there are several statistics in favor of women entrepreneurs – companies run by women tend to create jobs at a rate four times higher than the national average, and women also create companies at double the national average. Considering the difficulties in starting a business, as well as in raising sufficient capital, there are a number of grants available to women entrepreneurs.  Some of them are available to all women, some are specifically for minorities, some for certain fields of business.  But keep in mind that you can apply for and receive multiple grants.  You just have to know the process, have a relevant application, and have a working business plan.  Starting a business is never that easy, but there are tools which you can use to your advantage to make your life a bit easier.

Resources for Grants and Loans

In Canada, you can usually find funds to start your own business through the provincial government.  In several provinces including British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, there are Women’s Enterprise Centres, which provide resources for women looking to start a business or expand an existing one.  These provide resources for women entrepreneurs, business services, and mentoring from other women with their own businesses. If you reside in one of the four western provinces, you are eligible for a loan through the Women’s Enterprise Initiative, assuming that you meet their criteria.  Ontario also offers small business loans to low-income women, through the Women’s Issues Ministry, with the funds available through various community organizations.  The microloans in Ontario are between the amounts of $500 and $5000, and this initiative also offers training for women entrepreneurs.  In addition to these resources, the Royal Bank of Canada also offers assistance to women entrepreneurs in starting and running their small businesses.  Women can access information and assistance through the RBC’s Small Business Financial Services Resource Centre, as well as succession planning for retirement and one-on-one strategic advising for their small businesses.

Writing Grant Proposals

In order to get a grant, you must demonstrate exactly why you need it.  Presumably, you’ve already come up with a business plan, but that on its own is not enough to get you a grant, and thus you embark on the semi-painful process of applying for a grant.  But first, you need to find out what grants are available to you, and it is quite possible that you would be eligible for more than one.  If you’re also part of a minority group, and your business will engage in some sort of research, then there’s a good chance you’ll get a lot of different options.

You should look into exactly what requirements each grant has in terms of documents and qualifying factors, and apply on this basis.  Be very thorough in the manner that you go about this, ensuring that you are qualified to apply for each grant, and of course completing a separate application for every grant that you apply for.  It’s important to specifically target each organization offering funding, with your proposal outlining what exactly you plan to do with the money as well as how you are qualified to receive such funding.

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