EDC announces $50 million fund to help women entrepreneurs

Program will provide better access to growth capital

EDC announces $50 million fund to help women entrepreneurs
Steve Randall

Canada’s female entrepreneurs are to gain better access to growth capital due to a new program from Export Development Canada.

The Women in Trade Investments program will provide $50 million in equity capital in a bid to boost the exporting capabilities of female-led businesses.

The EDC says that there are 12,700 women across Canada who are reaping the benefits of going global but while 16% of small and medium sized businesses in Canada are owned by women, only 11% of these are active internationally.

"Women face unique challenges in the business world, and we've seen that equity capital providers are not meaningfully investing in businesses owned or led by women in Canada," said Mairead Lavery, President and CEO, EDC. "EDC's new program is the latest in a series of solutions EDC offers to ensure all Canadians have the same opportunities to dream big, be daring and take on the world, regardless of gender."

Growth means leaving no one behind
Minister of International Trade Diversification, Jim Carr, says that the country cannot achieve its potential while any group – women, Indigenous peoples and other minority groups – are being left behind.

"Programs like this and the Trade Commissioner Service's Business Women in International Trade help ensure that women who own and lead businesses, who want to diversify their exports will be able to do so. By making sure that women have the resources they need to thrive, we are putting Canada at the forefront of support for export-ready businesses," he said.

How the program works
The new EDC program will identify women-led businesses that have potential for international growth.

Support will be in the form of equity capital through both direct investment and investment in Canadian venture capital funds that demonstrate a commitment to gender diversity on both sides of the entrepreneur/investor table.

"The market clearly has a gap in terms of women accessing capital at the critical commercialization stage, and we want to do more to address this," said Jennifer Cooke, EDC's Corporate Lead for Women in Trade. "For example, we know women entrepreneurs are more likely to access capital when there are women investors on the other side of the table, so we're seeking fund partners who are also committed to improving gender diversity within their own senior management."