Public, private sector collaboration critical to support women entrepreneurs: survey
Only 36% benefited from a federal or provincial program for COVID-19 relief
MONTRÉAL — A survey led by EY Canada and Réseau des Femmes d’affaires du Québec (RFAQ) finds that the top challenge facing Canadian women entrepreneurs in the COVID-19 era is attracting new clients. Nearly 80% of respondents say that adapting service offerings and finding new ways to connect with potential buyers are their top concern, followed by the need to expand distribution models.
“It’s no secret that women entrepreneurs continue to face greater challenges than men to start businesses, scale up and access new markets,” said Anne-Marie Hubert, Eastern Canada Managing Partner at EY Canada, in a prepared statement. “Many government programs and investments have been made to address challenges related to accessing capital and promoting women in leadership, but COVID-19 introduced new hurdles. Collaboration between government and the private sector is critical to address the evolving issues women entrepreneurs face to help them thrive.”
While women entrepreneurs make up only 16% of Canadian business owners, they placed 27% of calls to the Business Resilience Service support hotline — a joint initiative between the Government of Canada, Canadian Chamber of Commerce and EY between May and June this year — indicating a greater reliance on support and guidance than their male counterparts.
However, only 36% of survey respondents say they benefited from a federal or provincial government COVID-19 relief program due, in part, to uncertainty around their eligibility and challenges navigating the application processes.
While many companies intend to improve the diversity of their suppliers, the challenge is where to begin. Organizations such as RFAQ provide resources and certification to help, while companies such as the BDC offer coaching services and the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women program connects women entrepreneurs with an exclusive global community of mentors and advisors to help advise on accelerating sustainable business growth.
“Women have a vital role to play in helping our country recover from COVID-19,” said Hubert. “By working together to reshape programs and support that is suited to their needs and challenges, we hope to see a lot more women success stories. Because when women win, we all win.”