OTTAWA—Export Development Canada (EDC) has announced a new $50 million Women in Trade Investments Program to provide equity capital specifically designed to help Canadian women entrepreneurs.
“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.”
The export credit agency says that women own only 16% of all small- and medium-sized enterprises in Canada, and only 11% of them are active outside of Canada, which means only 2% of small- and medium-sized businesses in Canada are both exporting and women-owned or -led.
EDC also explains that advancing women’s equality in Canada has the potential to add $150 billion in incremental GDP by 2026.
“Our economy—and our country—can never reach its full potential when we are leaving people behind, including women, Indigenous peoples and other minority groups,” said Minister of International Trade Diversification, Jim Carr. “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.”
EDC says it will work with women-owned and -led businesses that are strong candidates for significant export growth. Support will come in the form of equity capital through both direct investment and investment in Canadian venture capital funds.
“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.”
For more information, visit EDC’s Women in Trade page.