Despite women business owners contributing about $150 billion to the Canadian economy, they continue to face barriers in their entrepreneurial journeys, according to a new report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
The report, entitled Empowering Women in Business: Insights and Recommendations, is sponsored by Scotiabank and comes on the fifth anniversary of The Scotiabank Women Initiative®, designed to help women-owned and -led businesses succeed.
“Women entrepreneurs play a vital role in our economy, providing local jobs, boosting the GDP and supporting our communities. But while there are universal challenges that all entrepreneurs face, there are also unique experiences that make it harder for women to succeed and grow their businesses,” said Laure-Anna Bomal, CFIB economist.
“Financial institutions and governments should better promote their programs and make sure they’re easily accessible, particularly for those women entrepreneurs who lack financial support from family or business partners.”
The CFIB said half of women business owners (51%) surveyed reported facing challenges when trying to access financing for their businesses and 22% of financing applications from women-only owned businesses were rejected outright, compared to the average of 15% for all businesses.
“When it came to government support programs, more women said they had difficulty finding (45%) or applying and qualifying (38%) for these programs compared to men (34% and 30%, respectively),” said the CFIB.
“Most of the federal government programs are also not used by women entrepreneurs. While a quarter (26%) of women business owners reported using the Canadian Digital Adoption Program, women-specific government programs, such as the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund or the Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative, have low utilization, used by at most 3% of women entrepreneurs.”
To help women succeed in their entrepreneurial careers, CFIB recommends that:
- Governments increase awareness of programs geared toward women entrepreneurs, simplify the application process and/or provide more support during the process.
- Financial institutions consider establishing comprehensive mentorship programs, evaluating their loan approval processes, and consolidating and packaging resources to provide valuable support to women entrepreneurs.
Mario Toneguzzi is Managing Editor of Canada’s Podcast. He has more than 40 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He was named in 2021 as one of the Top 10 Business Journalists in the World by PR News – the only Canadian to make the list
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