6 MIN READ
Powering Women in Leadership: 10 Top Resources for Canadian Women in Business
March 04, 2021
It’s International Women’s Day. While we can celebrate many successes, the reality is clear: the playing field for women in Canadian business is still far from level.
Canada’s history of the fight for equal rights demonstrates that we have certainly come a long way, but especially in moments of dedicated reflection like International Women’s Day, it’s important to acknowledge that Canadian women in the workplace and beyond continue to face challenges unique to their gender identity.
The 2021 numbers tell us so. A recent investigative report by The Globe and Mail revealed that there still exists a significant power gap between men and women in the workforce, even after 70 years post-pay-equity-legislation. Ultimately, men still make more money than women in Canada, and there are “dramatically more men in high-paying jobs,” with women grossly underrepresented at the top of the corporate ladder, as well as in our country’s biggest institutions.
This is why the work towards equity and equality cannot stop, and the resources created for women in business need to remain in full force. This includes the fearless female leaders of retail, who face the related challenges of setting up operations, ensuring continuous returns, keeping employees satisfied, and boosting their bottom lines.
This year, we’re shining a spotlight on useful Canadian resources that can help equip Canadian women in business for continued success, including networking opportunities, financial support, government programs, and more.
Happy International Women’s Day. Let’s keep going.
This venture-capital Crown corporation touts itself as the bank for Canadian entrepreneurs, charged with supporting SMBs across industries with business loans. This includes women-owned businesses: the BDC has been buoyed by $15 million in government financial support to aid women entrepreneurs whose shops were impacted by COVID-19. To access their resources, advice, and financial support routes, you can visit them here.
As part of a concerted effort to encourage equal participation of women in the economy, the federal government launched this program to boost women-owned businesses’ access to financial and other resources to ensure their success in new markets. Not only does this provide equitable footing for female entrepreneurs, it also “could add up to $150 billion in GDP.” To learn more about this program, visit the website. On it you’ll find more information about the strategy, related organizations, funding structures, and other resources.
The truth is in the numbers: indigenous women in Canada tend to own small businesses, with 82% of those businesses having fewer than 1- employees, and 40% having no employees. So says the site for the Indigenous Women Entrepreneurship fund, which is working to change this inequity. Facilitated by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, and kickstarted by contributors like CIBC and the Indigenous Women’s Leadership Summit, this funding program aims to support Indigenous women-owned businesses who may face barriers to traditional financing, providing them with access to development opportunities and business-boosting networks. To learn more about funding amounts and eligibility criteria, visit ccab.com.
This online gathering connects over 1,000 women working in retail, encouraging them to explore networking and business opportunities; build potential partnerships; and make industry connections. Attendees can connect with a ‘curated network of expert women’ on a series of pertinent topics like leadership, development, growth strategies, and coaching, and can participate in 15-minute meetings and/or 55-minute peer group conversations. To learn more, visit their website.
Billed as the Digital Conference for Women Entrepreneurs, the annual conference provides the community with a forum to discover opportunities for professional development, mentorship, and financing. Featuring a series of leading experts as speakers, the virtual gathering provides yet another arena for establishing and burgeoning women business owners to power-up. While the 2021 conference already took place on March 4th, make sure to bookmark their website and highlight it as a must-attend event next year.
NETWORKS AND CONNECTOR PROGRAMS
A Government of Canada venture, this brand supports women-owned businesses by providing them with the resources they need to effectively expand into international markets. Opportunities include meeting potential partners and buyers, funding avenues, informational resources, and access to more contracts that benefit your business. To learn more, visit their website here.
A mover and shaker for women-owned businesses across the globe, WEConnection International in Canada works diligently to provide networking and learning resources to global women-owned businesses, and connect them with government agencies and strategic partners who want to ensure they are working specifically with women. Both strategic buyers and women business owners can register to participate with WEConnect, and in doing so, find opportunities that ensure money is getting into the hands of women business owners working in the global market. To learn more, visit their comprehensive website.
If you’re an organization looking to work more specifically with women entrepreneurs, look no further than WEOC. The association is a coming together of organizations that work directly with women-owned businesses, and support those businesses through advising, financing, training, and mentorship. WEOC’s nurturing of these relationships ensures a better chance for these business’ successes, thus stimulating the economy and growing employment opportunities in this country. To find out how you can participate, visit their site.
A non-profit organization, WBE Canada provides certification to women-owned businesses involved in the supply chain of corporate and government buyers. It also helps its buyers to ensure their supply changes or more inclusive and diverse, forging stronger relationships with women business owners across the country. To learn how to join this network as a buyer or a business, visit wbecanada.ca.
Membership in this community provides women in business with a network of like-minded business owners and advocates for gender equality in Canada. The first and only chamber of commerce for women-identified and non-binary business owners in the country, the CWCC acts as a representative of their community’s needs with the government and effectively fight for those interests. Becoming a member and enjoying the benefits are easy: simply sign up for a monthly or annual membership.
Are you a woman in business in Canada and hungry for more resources? The above is not an exhaustive list - there is certainly more for you to explore! For instance, you can check out small business loans specific to provinces for women in Canada here. A comprehensive list of small business programs provided in Canada can be found here, too.
CELEBRATE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY WITH THESE WOMEN-POWERED BUSINESSES
This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not an exhaustive review of this topic. The content is not financial or investment advice. No professional relationship of any kind is formed between you and PayBright. While we have obtained or compiled this information from sources we believe to be reliable, we cannot and do not guarantee its accuracy. We recommend that you consult your personal finance professional before taking any action related to this information. PayBright is a provider of Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) solutions. BNPL providers offer plans with a variety of terms and conditions, including interest rates, fees, and penalties, and have different standards for qualifying for loans. Laws and regulations governing BNPL providers vary by jurisdiction. We recommend that you compare and contrast plans, read the fine print, and conduct detailed research into any BNPL provider before using their services.
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