Mary Ng, federal Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, today announced $5 million from Budget 2021 for the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH).
WEKH was described in a release as one of the pillars of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a now $6-billion program to advance women’s economic empowerment. The funding, it said, will allow it to “continue the momentum of its work, advancing its research and expanding tools and resources to support diverse women entrepreneurs.”
“Looking ahead to our recovery from COVID-19, our government knows that supporting women is the smartest thing we can do,” said Ng, who made the announcement from the Signal Hill campus of Memorial University in St. John’s.
“By advancing gender equality, we can add $150 billion to the Canadian economy. From the critical supports we’re providing to Canadian businesses during COVID-19 to the forward-looking investments we’re making to improve access to economic opportunities for all, we will ensure the gains made through supporting the success of women entrepreneurs and business owners are not lost to the pandemic.”
WEKH, the release stated, consists of a network of over 300 partners made up of researchers, business support organizations and key industry leaders, that are working to create a more supportive environment to grow women’s entrepreneurship in Canada.
By collecting, analyzing and disseminating information, it helps track progress being made and inform the work ahead to support more women business owners in starting up, scaling up and exporting to new markets, the release stated
Ng also announced that WEKH released its annual report, The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada 2021, a document that “focuses on the structural barriers that women entrepreneurs in Canada face, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on women and ways to move forward.
“Though its findings show that women’s businesses were disproportionately affected by the challenges of COVID-19, the report also explores how the pandemic has fuelled innovation and growth for some women entrepreneurs.”
The release noted that “WEKH also stayed connected with women entrepreneurs throughout the pandemic by hosting a virtual month-long conference on economic recovery, developing a mentorship database of over 1,000 award-winning Canadian women industry leaders, and launching a sharing platform to collaborate and to share experiences and knowledge.”