Deep Dive into Canadian Women Entrepreneurs’ Funding Woes

By: GWL Team | Saturday, 9 December 2023

According to research conducted by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, 51% of women entrepreneurs in Canada struggle to acquire financial backing, and 45% have issues with government aid programs.

Women are increasingly breaking down boundaries and embracing crucial positions in today's corporate environments. Notably, the number of women in leadership positions, including CEO and executive positions, has increased significantly, indicating a good movement toward gender diversity in corporate hierarchies. Efforts to promote inclusion and equality in the workplace have been critical in eliminating long-held gender conventions.

Diversity and inclusion are crucial drivers of economic success in the ever-changing world of Canadian business. While the entrepreneurial spirit knows no gender, a recent analysis by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) sheds light on the specific hurdles that women confront in the workplace. Despite contributing an astonishing $150 billion to the Canadian economy, women entrepreneurs face obstacles that stymie their entrepreneurial endeavours.

Unveiling Women's Entrepreneurial Journeys: Navigating the Business Terrain

Entrepreneurship is a dynamic force that drives economic growth, and women-led enterprises play an important role in this story. They not only contribute to financial wealth, but also to community development and jobs. However, according to the CFIB's recent research, "Empowering Women in Business: Insights and Recommendations," the road for women in business is not without challenges.

Women in Business: A Scenario

Women entrepreneurs are critical to the Canadian economy, creating local jobs, increasing GDP, and sustaining communities. The CFIB report, on the other hand, underlines the unique challenges that women face in the workplace.

Laure-Anna Bomal, CFIB economist, points out, "While there are universal challenges that all entrepreneurs face, there are also unique experiences that make it harder for women to succeed and grow their businesses."

One of the key barriers highlighted is the difficulty in obtaining money. According to the survey, 51% of female company owners had difficulty obtaining financial backing for their companies. Worryingly, 22% of funding applications from women-owned firms were refused outright, a proportion higher than the overall rejection rate of 15%.

Furthermore, government assistance programs provide a difficulty for female entrepreneurs. A sizable proportion (45%) had trouble discovering these programs, while 38% had problems applying and qualifying.

The paper highlights the reality that many federal government initiatives aimed at entrepreneurs, particularly women, are underused. Programs such as the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund and the Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative, for example, are only used by 3% of female entrepreneurs.

Barriers to Success: Insights from the CFIB Report

The CFIB research emphasizes the need of increasing knowledge of and access to government programs designed specifically for women entrepreneurs. To better help women in business, financial institutions are being pushed to build extensive mentorship programs and rethink loan approval processes.

To overcome these issues and create a climate conducive to women's achievement, the CFIB suggests:

Governments Raise Awareness and Simplify Procedures: Governments could take proactive steps to raise awareness of initiatives developed exclusively for women entrepreneurs. Simultaneously, streamlining application processes and offering assistance throughout the application period might boost participation.

Financial Institutions give Comprehensive assistance: Financial institutions are urged to develop mentorship programs, reevaluate loan approval processes, and pool resources in order to give comprehensive assistance to women entrepreneurs. This comprehensive strategy strives to fill current gaps in financial assistance and mentorship.

Utilizing Support Programs: Women in business needing support are advised to look into programs like The Scotiabank Women Initiative, which provides women and non-binary persons with fair access to financial solutions, specialized education, advisory services, and mentorship.


The CFIB study is an important call to action, underlining the importance of tailored initiatives to overcome the barriers that women entrepreneurs confront. Governments, financial institutions, and women in business may all contribute to a more inclusive and supportive entrepreneurial landscape by identifying these challenges and implementing the proposed solutions.

As we mark the fifth anniversary of The Scotiabank Women Initiative, it is clear that coordinated efforts are required to empower women in business and ensure their sustained and increased contribution to the Canadian economy.