Need help kickstarting your business?

Here are five financial programs for aspiring female entrepreneurs in Canada

Courtesy of CoWomen

Starting a business can be expensive and daunting. Few people have the funds to build a business from the ground up — a struggle in and of itself. 

For women entrepreneurs, competing in the male-dominated world of business and finances can result in added stress and difficulty.

Fortunately, the Government of Canada and various other enterprises have created initiatives that provide business loans, grants and other resources specifically for female entrepreneurs. Check out these five financial programs for support when building a new business.

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The Scotiabank Women Initiative

Scotiabank launched the Women’s Initiative in 2018 to support women and non-binary people in their businesses. 

The program is free to join and offers three main benefits: Being partnered with a financial sponsor and receiving capital based on monetary needs, business-focused education and mentors to provide advice on anything finance-related.

To sign up for the initiative, an application form is available online. There, you can contact an expert in your area who specializes in starting small businesses. 

If you do not already have a bank account with Scotiabank, obtaining one is relatively simple and can be found in the same location as the program application. 

Coralus, formerly SheEO

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In 2015, Coralus was created to aid women and non-binary people with their businesses through their Perpetual Fund. 

The women who add to this fund are known as Activators. The fund is loaned to Ventures led by women who are working on the World’s To-Do List — Coralus’ framing of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The zero-interest loan is paid back over five years and then is recycled into another business, making it a cyclical fund. 

To apply, certain criteria must be met. 

First, the venture must be working towards making the world a better place, as outlined in the UN Sustainability Goals. The company must also be majority-owned by a woman or non-binary person. Finally, it must be a legal enterprise with the ability to export that has generated $50,000 to two million in profit in the past year. 

If all these needs are met, you can apply online and go through a two-round process.

For more information about the application, program and who to contact, please visit their website here.

Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada

The Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada is connected to the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, which allows small businesses owned by women and non-binary people to receive up to $50, 000 towards financing their business.

The sole criterion for this loan is that the business must be majority-owned by a woman or non-binary person. Special consideration is given to new businesses, underrepresented groups and companies struggling with funds.

To apply for the loan, email or call the organization here. Include your name and the location of your business in Canada and a meeting will be set up for further information on how to proceed.

Visa Canada She’s Next Grant Program

Courtesy of Christin Hume

In partnership with IFundWomen, Visa annually chooses 10 aspiring female entrepreneurs to award $10, 000, along with a one-year mentorship with IFundWomen, a funding marketplace for women-owned businesses to help them succeed.

To be eligible to apply, the business owner must be a Canadian legal resident and the age of majority in their province or territory. They must also own at least 50 per cent of their business that has been operating for at least two years and be making a substantial profit with a strong media existence.

The application can be completed through their website. Various examples of the companies and women who have been impacted by the program can also be found there.

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) Women in Technology Venture Fund

The Women in Technology Venture Fund is different from the other initiatives because it is a venture capital fund, not a loan or grant. Investors choose companies to put their money towards and focus on supporting women and non-binary people-led technology businesses.

The fund has three main focuses: helping technology companies owned by women, expanding resources internationally for venture partners and businesses and dealing only in Series B investments (investments in businesses that are past the startup stage) that result in higher financial help.

The website details over 30 companies as investors, a $200 million capital fund and over 5, 000 women-owned businesses supported. The application form can be found here, which requires information about the business to determine whether it would be a good fit.

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