Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub receives $4M from Government of Canada
By Canadian Manufacturing
TORONTO — the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH), WEDO Canada and TMX Group celebrated Women’s Entrepreneurship Day with over 125 diverse women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship ecosystem partners from across Canada at a TSX market open ceremony in Toronto.
During the event Rechie Valdez, Minister of Small Business, joined by the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, announced additional funding of up to $3.8 million for the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub(WEKH), which will help WEKH to continue its national research to understand barriers and enablers to entrepreneurial success and innovation, expand ecosystem partnerships and raise awareness about the success of women entrepreneurs.
Both Ministers acknowledged the role that women entrepreneurs play in Canada’s economy while recognizing challenges that women-led businesses have to overcome to succeed.
“We are committed to moving the needle for women entrepreneurs because supporting women is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do to support our economy,” said Minister Valdez. Prior to becoming Minister of Small Business, Minister Valdez was an entrepreneur herself and put forward the Private Members’ Bill to enact the National Women’s Entrepreneurship Day in Canada.
“As Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, I see up close that is not always a level playing field when it comes to women looking to start and grow their businesses,” said Minister Ien. “We have to make sure that we’re pushing for gender equality in our communities, in our institutions and in our economy, because it’s so much untapped potential in our country. A strong resilient economy is inclusive.”
Shannon Pestun, Founder, Finance Café and Senior Adviser, Business and Finance, WEKH, spoke about the importance of collecting aggregate data about women entrepreneurs, echoing a previous statement from Wendy Cukier, Founder and Academic Director of WEKH and the Diversity Institute at Toronto Metropolitan University, that “what gets measured, gets done.”
She added, “When the Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy was set up, we knew that data was key. Through data we can assess the market potential of $150 billion if there was full and equal participation of women in the economy. Through data we can understand the impact that COVID 19 had on women entrepreneurs, through data we can better understand intersectionality and what works for whom, and why and who is being left behind. Through data, we’re also able to deepen our understanding of the barriers and how we as an ecosystem respond to those barriers through our programming, through our wraparound supports and through our genuine care to advance women’s entrepreneurship.”
Co-hosts of the event, WEDO Canada had several volunteers in attendance and Milena Radakovic, Canada Ambassador, WEDO Canada, explained the importance of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, which is held annually on November 19and is the world’s largest grassroots movement dedicated to educating, supporting and empowering women entrepreneurs.