Women in Canadian Manufacturing

Women entrepreneurs in Canada face challenges in accessing financing for their business

December 5, 2023
By Canadian Manufacturing Avatar photo
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TORONTO — 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.

Half of women business owners (51 per cent) surveyed reported facing challenges when trying to access financing for their businesses. In addition, 22 per cent of financing applications from women-only owned businesses were rejected outright, compared to the average of 15 per cent for all businesses.

When it came to government support programs, more women said they had difficulty finding (45 per cent) or applying and qualifying (38 per cent) for these programs compared to men (34 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively).

Most of the federal government programs are also not used by women entrepreneurs. While a quarter (26 per cent) 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 per cent of women entrepreneurs.

“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,” Bomal said.