Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, Mary Ng, today announced the federal government has invested $20 million CAD of its Women Entrepreneurship Fund to 200 companies across Canada. This week’s funding marks the first investment made since the $2 billion fund was announced in 2018.

“Increasing women entrepreneurs is not just the right thing to do—it’s good for the bottom line.”

The government announced the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a $2 billion investment seeking to double the number of women-owned businesses. Today, it announced the first 200 successful applicants, which are set to receive an investment up to $100,000, with the goal of helping businesses grow and reach new export markets.

“The Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy is the first of its kind and certainly this government has been clear that it is a feminist government,” Minister Ng told BetaKit. “Increasing women entrepreneurs is not just the right thing to do—it’s good for the bottom line.”

Minister Ng noted the opportunity for the Canadian economy when it invests in more women-led companies. She pointed to statistics showing there are over a million small and medium-sized businesses in Canada but fewer than 16 percent are women-owned. According to the government’s analysis, advancing women’s participation in the economy could add up to $150 billion CAD to Canada’s GDP by 2026.

While the WES is not tech-focused and ranges multiple industries, other women in tech funds have been granted government funding for tech-specific investment, such as BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Venture Fund, with its mandate of $200 million to be invested in women-led tech companies

The WES itself is not focused on one industry, but Minister Ng noted many women working in tech and manufacturing will be part of this funding initiative, such as Vancouver-based automation solutions provider Eelzee Solutions and radiation and explosive detection technology manufacturer Bubble Technology. Some of the recipients of today’s $20 million annoucnement include:

A.P.E. Maintenance Ltd.Fort McMurray — Cold Lake, Alberta

A.P.E. will increase barge capacity for shipping on the Athabasca River to Fort Chipewyan. The contribution will support the construction of an addition to their river barge, Echo North, to double its cargo capacity.

Prairie Berries Inc. - Moose Jaw — Lake Centre— Lanigan, Saskatchewan

Prairie Berries Inc. will expand the Saskatoon berry processing facility, allowing it to pursue export markets. The proposed activities aim to increase the quality and supply of CFIA approved Saskatoon berries and extracts for domestic and international markets.

Eelzee Solutions Inc. Vancouver, British Columbia

Eelzee Solutions Inc. will enhance online presence and sales to the Canadian and Australian market, improve its business process, and secure marketing and business advisory services.

Main St. Local Kitchen Inc.Parry Sound, Ontario

Main St Local Kitchen Inc. is expanding their current gluten-free food and beverage operations to include an improved facility for food processing and storage for retail and wholesale distribution. Funding will support launching their brand on the market with commercial product integrity in order to capitalize on market growth opportunities.

Creative Education of Canada, Inc.Point Edward, Ontario

Creative Education of Canada produces children’s dress-up clothes including the popular “Great Pretenders” line of clothing, accessories and giftware. The project will undertake international marketing and increase production. Funding for this project is to purchase and install an automated cutting machine, which will result in market expansion in Europe.

Bubble Technology Industries Inc.Chalk River, Ontario

Bubble Technology specializes in radiation and explosive detection technology used to protect personnel from radiation hazards. The company’s technology has flown on over two dozen space missions and has been used to screen for threats at high-profile sporting events such as the Olympics as well as American presidential inaugurations. The project will support in-house advanced electronics manufacturing capability, increase efficiency in business operations and support marketing efforts. This will result in market expansion into new markets and new job creation.

Of the $2 billion in the WES, $1.8 billion still remains, and to help it dole $85 million more of the funding, the government announced earlier week that it has established a panel of experts to provide advice and identify opportunities and challenges for women entrepreneurs. The panel is co-chaired by Laura McGee, founder of Diversio and Danièle Henkel, and its members include Shauna Harper, Shannon Pestun, director of Women’s Entrepreneurship at ATB Financial, Sharon Zohar, founding partner at The Big Push, Dr. Virginia McGowan, and Maudeleine Myrthil.

The panel will be supported by representatives from the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub and the BDC, the special advisor on Scale Up, Minister Ng, as well as by the work of the Canada-United States Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders.

“The members’ wealth of experience and commitment to advancing women in business will be invaluable to our government as we lead the way on doubling the amount of women entrepreneurs by 2025,” Minister Ng claimed.

As the WES timeline stretches to 2025, and with the upcoming federal election looming, Minister Ng said that she obviously hopes to see the Liberal Party re-elected to help the strategy continue past this year. She argued that the current government has taken more action on women issues, and gender parity than any previous government, noting the Liberal Party “has been clear that it is a feminist government.”

Minister Ng also addressed growing concerns surrounding the government feminists stance after two female members, Treasure Board president Jane Philpott and Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould recently resigned, after Wilson-Raybould says she received “inappropriate pressure” from the Prime Minister’s cabinet amidst the ongoing SNC-Lavalin scandal.

“Jodi and Jane were fine colleagues and while I’m disappointed to see them go, I respect their decision to step down from Cabinet,” Minister Ng told BetaKit. “As a woman, and a minority woman, that sits at the Cabinet table I can assure you that women are encouraged to speak up and speak often. Our government has demonstrated time and time again that we are a feminist government that continues to deliver for Canadian women at historic levels and our work has only just begun.”

Minister Ng did not disclose how or when the remaining of portion the $2 billion WES fund will be handed out to the rest of the applicants.

Original Article