The Government of Canada is committed to advancing gender equality, women's economic empowerment, and supporting women entrepreneurs through the new Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (the Strategy), announced in Budget 2018.
As part of the Strategy, the Government is ensuring women across Canada have access to the business supports they need to start or grow a business.
The WES Ecosystem Fund is investing $85 million over five years to strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem and close gaps in service for women entrepreneurs. Projects must be led by non-profit organizations (including social enterprises and cooperatives) and be inclusive of the needs of diverse and under-represented women.
The WES Ecosystem Fund seeks to address gaps and build capacity in the entrepreneurship ecosystem for women. Under this Initiative, activities could include:
- Supplier diversity activities that target women entrepreneurs;
- Initiatives to support women in traditionally underrepresented sectors;
- Networking, matchmaking, and mentorship opportunities;
- Incubator and accelerator programs;
- Initiatives to support the participation of diverse and underrepresented women in entrepreneurship;
- Efforts to scale up programs that support women entrepreneurs across regions and on a national basis; and
- Other activities that will support the objectives of the WES Ecosystem Fund.
Funding is available through two streams:
National/Multi-Regional Stream: $15 million dollars will fund projects which are national or multi-regional in scope. Priority will be given to national projects that deliver benefits in all provinces and territories. The minimum funding amount that will be considered for a national or multi-regional project is $1 million.
A multi-regional project is one that combines three or more of the following regions: Western Canada Northern Ontario, Southern Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and Northern Canada.
Regional Stream: $70 million of the WES Ecosystem Fund investment will go towards projects delivered in one of the regions listed above.
More information on the regions is available in the FAQ.
The Government of Canada invites eligible organizations to submit innovative proposals for the WES Ecosystem Fund under the Strategy.