Author: Jodi Wildeman, K.C. This blog was prepared with the assistance of Haley Stearns, summer law student.
On June 16, 2020, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $8.3 million to support women entrepreneurs in Western Canada.
Western Economic Diversification Canada is supporting women entrepreneurs through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), which will allocate funding to Women’s Enterprise Initiatives (WEI) in each province across Western Canada.
This initiative is one of many that recognizes the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Canadian women entrepreneurs. We previously discussed various supports available to women entrepreneurs dealing with COVID-19-related challenges in our Supporting Women Entrepreneurs Essential Component of Economic Recovery blog.
Supporting women entrepreneurs in Canada is an important initiative for economic growth. The Government of Canada has reported that by advancing gender equality and women’s participation in the economy, Canada could add up to $150 billion in GDP. However, studies have identified certain challenges for women entrepreneurs that must be addressed to support this economic growth. For example, a study conducted by PayPal found that Canadian women entrepreneurs earn 58% less revenue than their male counterparts. Eliminating this gap could generate an additional $88.2 billion in median revenue to the Canadian economy. As a result, additional funding to support women entrepreneurs is an important step in re-building the economy.
Overview of Funding
The Women’s Enterprise Centre in British Columbia, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs, Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan, and the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba will each receive $2 million in additional loan funds for women entrepreneurs. These organizations will also receive additional operating funds to aid with the increased demand for advisory services and business supports resulting from COVID-19.
The RRRF Women’s Enterprise Initiative Stream provides women-owned or women-led businesses with loans of up to $40,000. The loan is intended to cover fixed costs only (such as property taxes, insurances, and professional fees). However, the loan may be used in some circumstances to cover other costs (such as salaries and benefits) if the applicant is not already receiving government funding to cover those costs.
To be eligible for the RRRF Women’s Enterprise Initiative Stream, applicants must:
- be a small or medium-sized women-owned or women-led business
- be a sole proprietor or “main street” business, such as retail shops, restaurants, corner stores etc. and businesses of strategic importance to the community.
- Eligible applicants must also be:
- established prior to March 1, 2020;
- impacted adversely due to the COVID-19 pandemic;
- viable and not experiencing financial pressures prior to March 1, 2020; and
- are ineligible, and/or not receiving other federal relief support for the same expenditures.
There may be other additional criteria based on which province an applicant operates their business in as well as how an applicant intends to use loan funds.
How to Apply:
To apply for funding through the Women’s Enterprise Initiative Stream of the RRRF, women-owned or women-led businesses are asked to apply directly through their provincial WEI organization:
- British Columbia – Women’s Enterprise Centre
- Alberta – Alberta Women Entrepreneurs
- Saskatchewan – Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan
- Manitoba – Women’s Enterprise Centre
For additional information on the RRRF stream for women-owned and women-led business and how to apply see here. There are numerous resources available to support women entrepreneurs amid the COVID-19 pandemic. MLT Aikins LLP will continue to monitor opportunities for resources and support for entrepreneurs and provide updates as they become available.