The federal government has been using its Budget processes from 2017 to actively pursue policies to advance gender diversity in the Canadian economy. Budget 2018 continued to policy and the recent announcement of the Women Entrepreneurship Fund is an example of this policy approach in action.
Funding is available for women-owned (at least 50% ownership) and women-led Small and Medium Enterprises of 500 employees or less. Women inclusion for eligibility means an equity stake plus active engagement in operational and strategy management and decision making. The program is open to a wide range of women from indigenous, rural and remote, recent immigrants and those with disabilities.
The range of businesses are aligned strategically with Federal objectives in collaboration with industry. Included is new product development and process improvement through advanced manufacturing, Agri-food business processes, Cleantech to reduce environmental impacts, improve global competitiveness. Health and Bio-sciences from medical devices, pharma and digital industries involved in business solutions from AI, to Big Data, 3D Printing, Robotics and Nanotechnologies. The traditional natural resources are included too but in the context of transitioning to the new resource economic around innovation, environmental competitiveness and to the low-carbon economy.
The business outcomes expected from the Federal funding include expanding exports to new market opportunities and or growing exports to existing markets. Growth of existing businesses in terms of revenue, market share, product, process, technology of service offering improvements are part of the funding goals.
There is a cost sharing aspect where applicants are required to invest a minimum of 10% of project costs in the Strategic Economic sectors, and 20% otherwise. Projects will be assessed on criteria around capacity of the enterprise to manage and deliver as well as grow, there are clear and feasible timelines for delivery, the product or service offering must have some market advantage with activities that demonstrate positive impact on future revenues, risks are clearly identified, and mitigation measures outlined. There must be reasonable details budget that includes expenses for professional advisory services, and other policy alignments with the Fund goals.
However, if you want to participate, time is of the essence. The deadline for application is November 15, 2018. If you are interested here is a link to the program. https://goo.gl/12mvrS