Women entrepreneurs hoping to launch their businesses may wish to apply for funding through the Government of Canada’s $55 million Women’s Entrepreneur Loan Fund.
On August 15, the federal government announced that Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC), a Winnipeg-based association of organizations dedicated to working with women entrepreneurs, would be responsible for administering approximately $30 million funding under the program.
“Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy, and now is a great time to provide resources that facilitate the growth of women-owned businesses,” said WEOC CEO Alison Kirkland. , in a press release.
Other organizations administering the loan fund include the National Association of Aboriginal Capital Corporations, Northumberland Business Development Assistance Corp and Coralus. The fund is part of the federal government‘s $6 billion Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, which also includes the Inclusive Initiative for Women in Venture Capital, the WES Ecosystem Fund and the Knowledge Hub for women in entrepreneurship.
How the program works
The Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund offers microloans of up to $50,000 to women entrepreneurs, especially startups, underrepresented groups, and sole proprietorships. Loans have tenors up to five years with a maximum interest rate of +4% and a maximum loan servicing fee of 1%.
Eligible businesses must be more than 50% women-owned and cannot generate more than $2 million in gross revenue per year. Eligible businesses must also have a business plan, including a cash flow forecast for a minimum of two years. To learn more about how to qualify for funding, as well as eligible and ineligible expenses for businesses that receive loans, see the eligibility requirements published by the WEOC.
Advancing economic opportunities for women
A report released by the federal government noted that women-owned businesses are less likely to seek equity financing than men-owned businesses, and women are more likely to own small businesses than men. Speaking to reporters in Winnipeg earlier this week, WEOC President Marcela Mandeville described new federal funding for women entrepreneurs as a “game changer.”
The Government of Canada has noted that only 17% of small and medium-sized businesses in the country are owned by women. A McKinsey & Company study showed that promoting gender equality could add $150 billion to the Canadian economy, of which approximately $50 billion could be generated in Western Canada.
MLT Aikins Corporate/Commercial Group lawyers have extensive experience advising women entrepreneurs in Western Canada on business start-ups, access to capital and planning for growth. If you are looking to grow your business, contact us to find out how we can help you.
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