With its family-friendly policies and investment in women, Canada is an emerging hot spot for female entrepreneurs. In March of 2015 , the Business Development Bank of Canada announced $700-million in earmarked funding to finance women-owned businesses. This funding builds on the over $153-million in funding provided by the Status of Women Canada to support more than 750 projects since 2007. Of this amount, over $12-million has been for projects which address women’s entrepreneurship.
That includes the likes of Natalie MacNeil, an award-winning media entrepreneur from Kitchener, Ontario and best known as the founder and editor-in-chief of She Takes On The World, a site dedicated to empowering women in business. What started out as a personal blog has evolved into a critically acclaimed resource for young professionals. Her site was listed on the “Forbes Top 100 Websites for Women” four years in a row.
Another notable Entrepreneur is Toronto based Stephanie Sterjovski, who started a blog and turned it into a fashion haven. From there, she has launched her own online shop, SS Prints, which now sells internationally including at Chapters and Pottery Barn. Her designs are made in Canada with environmentally friendly paper and feature whimsical designs and graphic prints. This young entrepreneur has done more in her 20s than some can hope to achieve in a lifetime.
While entrepreneurship may be thriving, female leadership isn’t strong in Canada. Of the 47 per cent of women who make up Canada’s workforce, only 3 per cent are CEOs according to a Dell report. The 2013 Catalyst Census on Women Board Directors finds that less than 16 per cent of women are in executive board seats, and 40 per cent of companies have no women at all on their boards. In addition, women own only 16 per cent of Canada’s small to medium-size enterprises according to a 2012 report by TD Economics.
Canadian women also face a confidence gap when it comes to starting businesses. According to a recent study, 46 per cent of women feel that women are portrayed in stereotypical ways and do not believe they have adequate business skills. However, there are many more behind the likes of Natalie and Stephanie profiled above, you can meet more of them here.