[NEWS RELEASE] Western Economic Diversification Canada supports women-owned businesses in Western Canada

WeBC July 16, 2020

Government of Canada to invest $8.3 million in western Canadian women entrepreneurs

Edmonton, Alberta, July 16, 2020 – Western Economic Diversification Canada

Canadian women entrepreneurs are contributing to the economic success of our communities. At the same time, they have unique and systemic hurdles to overcome when starting and growing a business, and have been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, many of the sectors where women entrepreneurs tend to operate like retail, accommodation and food services, have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

To help remedy this situation, Terry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (Western Economic Diversification Canada), today announced $8.3 million through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to support the Women’s Enterprise Initiative (WEI) organizations across Western Canada.

“Women entrepreneurs are playing a critical role in the economic recovery of Canada, and this new funding will provide necessary financial support for them. Women’s Enterprise Centre is pleased to distribute the loan fund for women entrepreneurs in BC, because we can also support women with essential wrap-around services, including business advising, mentoring and education, which will help women-owned businesses build resilience. Women’s Enterprise Centre has employed this proven holistic approach for 25 years, and we look forward to helping more women entrepreneurs increase their chances of business success, now and into the future.” – Jill Earthy, Interim CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre

PS Duguid made the announcement on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD).

“Women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses are facing unique challenges in Canada and across the West. I’m pleased the Government of Canada is able to provide these supports so they can continue operating and building Canada’s economic future. Women entrepreneurs want to go back to building their businesses, and we will be there to help them build back better.” – The Honourable Mélanie Joly

Women’s Enterprise Centre in British Columbia, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan, and the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba will each receive $2 million in additional loan funds for women entrepreneurs. In addition, $300,000 in operating funding will be divided equally among the four WEIs to meet the increased demand for advisory services and business supports.

On May 13, 2020, the Government of Canada launched the $962 million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund—including $304.2 million for Western Canada—to support businesses economically impacted by the COVID-19.
The funding announced today is provided through WD, which strategically invests in projects that promote sustainable community economic diversification, enhance business development and growth, and facilitate innovation.

Targeted support for women entrepreneurs in Western Canada

These organizations will use the funds to assist Canadian women-owned businesses unable to access larger federal relief funding programs by providing them with immediate liquidity to face COVID-19-related challenges. WEI organizations have extensive experience working with women entrepreneurs, assisting them to overcome barriers and challenges in building their businesses. They also have a proven track record in providing loans and after-care services to women entrepreneurs to ensure their long-term success.

In 1995, WD established the Women’s Enterprise Initiative (WEI), creating an independent non-profit organization in each western province to support women entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. The WEI organizations provide business advisory services, loans (up to $150,000), mentorship and networking opportunities to support women entrepreneurs.

Supporting businesses during this unprecedented time of crisis is an integral part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. These businesses are the backbone of our economy—they provide good jobs that support families across the country. By supporting employers today, Canada will be in a stronger position as we come out of this crisis.

“Western Canadian women entrepreneurs make incredible contributions to our economy and communities every day. Their economic empowerment is essential for a thriving economy and will be crucial for the economic recovery of western Canadian communities. With WD’s assistance and other Government of Canada supports women-led businesses will come back stronger than ever.” – Terry Duguid

Learn more

For details on the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) for women entrepreneurs in BC, learn more on our website >>

About WeBC

WeBC is a non-profit organization devoted to helping BC women launch, lead and scale their own businesses. Our full range of services includes business loans up to $150K, business advice, skills training, mentoring, resources and a supportive community to help women entrepreneurs realize their business potential. Connect with us today for personalized support for your business!

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