In Canada, women make up 5% of tech founders and receive less than 4% of venture capital. They face unique challenges in raising capital, entering established networks and adapting their needs to the current tech-focused support programs around the country.
It’s important to focus the needs of female founders of tech ventures as distinct from women who are working as employees in the tech industry.
Female founders are expanding the frontiers of diversity in the tech industry, despite the challenges noted above.
There are exciting initiatives around the country to encourage women to venture into the high-growth tech industry and create world-class businesses, while also becoming investors in tech ventures.
- In BC, Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) has partnered with the Discovery Foundation on a peer mentoring program for female founders.
- The impact investing and management company, Pique Ventures (founded by WEC board member Bonnie Foley-Wong), manages an Angel Fund which invests in women-led ventures. Women investors have provided over 80% of the fund’s capital.
- The Raise Collective (co-founded by WEC board chair Jill Earthy) supports female founders on their journey to raising capital while enabling more women to become investors.
- In addition, Vancouver-based fintech startup, FrontFundr (of which Jill is Chief Growth Officer) has helped raise funds for 21 different firms, of which one-third were women-led. Over one-third of the investors in Frontfundr’s latest round of financing to support its own growth across Canada were women.
On a national level, the Canadian government is investing in women in technology, earmarking $50M of the Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative (VCCI) for under-represented groups such as women and diverse fund management teams (successful proponents to be announced soon).
[su_spacer=”15″]Female founders are leading the way
One woman who has benefited from programs targeted at female founders is Janice Taylor. She created Mazu, propriety software to protect children online, and to teach core values while protecting the privacy of all users.
By partnering with professional sports, music and entertainment, Mazu has become the thought leader in family engagement via its secure, online messaging platform and content management service.
Janice recently opened her messaging platform to new verticals and introduced an age verification tool to make sure families and kids clubs’ can maintain secure internal communications as an alternative to Facebook messenger.
Janice started her company in Saskatchewan, with help from Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK). Since moving to Kelowna, she has raised $7.5M in financing and is now seeking an additional $3M in Series A financing to support her growth. WEC is pleased to be supporting Mazu as it grows.
As the BC economy becomes more invested in technology, it’s important to provide targeted support to female founders. WEC helps connect female founders with mentors, financing and other supports available through the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
If you are operating in the tech sphere – as an experienced entrepreneur, investor or startup – get in touch with us so we can tame the wild west together.