There is much work to be done in supporting women’s entrepreneurial ventures. A strong entrepreneurial sector is essential to a thriving economy. Women own over 37% of small businesses in BC, yet need help to expand their vision for their ventures, and they need extra support in scaling their businesses through access to markets and capital.
A 2010 report by the Canadian Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth highlighted that investing in women entrepreneurs presents a significant opportunity for enhancing the Canadian economy. Statistics show that Canadian women start businesses at a greater rate than men, yet they are less likely to scale up their business.
Barriers to successful entrepreneurship include lack of confidence, access to the right networks and mentors, access to capital and business training, and less emphasis on a growth mindset. Regardless of the stage or size of a business, lack of time and challenges with work-life balance remain overarching impediments for many women entrepreneurs.
In a 2013 study by BMO, it was noted that among those who would start a business if given the opportunity, 40% of BC women surveyed consider access to capital to be their biggest challenge. Another study by RBC Economics also found that the historical issue of a lack of credit history persists for women today.
On average, Canadian women business owners are less likely to export compared to male counterparts. For these entrepreneurs, actively engaging in Supplier Diversity initiatives can be a way to access cross-border opportunities and multinational clients.
The Canadian Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth highlighted three key actions to support women’s enterprise growth:
- develop new markets and grow globally through engagement with international trade and value chains;
- leverage supplier diversity; and
- increase access to commercial capital through supporting financial literacy, increasing access to expansion capital and enhancing infrastructure.
BC and Canadian economies will reap strong gains in supporting women entrepreneurs to reach their full growth potential.
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