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More stark statistics demonstrate gender inequality in opportunities and resources.
October 17, 2023

The 2023 State of Women’s Entrepreneurship annual report shows the harsh reality in terms of gender inequality in Canada across all sectors.

According to the report (by the Women’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH):

  • Almost one million women are self-employed, and the number is growing
  • Only 18 per cent of all businesses are majority-owned by women
  • Almost all of these majority-woman-owned businesses are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • Women business owners focus more on innovation and are almost a third more likely to implement marketing innovations than men-owned SMEs.
  • Women-owned SMEs focus on inclusivity and provide opportunities for equity-deserving groups such as women, Indigenous Peoples, Black and racialized people, and 2SLGBTQ+ communities.

Despite making progress, women entrepreneurs continue to face challenges. One major obstacle for women business owners is access to financing. They have a harder time getting credit through financial institutions, or don’t qualify for a loan, because their businesses tend to be smaller, and when they do get a loan, they get less funding. On average, businessmen get 150 per cent more funding than businesswomen.

Financing barriers and borrowing costs are even worse for underrepresented women, such as Black or Indigenous women, and all women face a lack of opportunities for networking, mentorship and business training.

Clearly, there is a continuing need for urgent, concrete action to help women entrepreneurs achieve success.

MWAF is working with its partners towards this goal. As an example, we have partnered with the Small Scale Food Processors Association (SSFPA) to help women food entrepreneurs scale up their businesses. The SSFPA is offering a program with the goal of preparing women to be venture-capital ready, teaching them how to find, approach and present their business concept to potential investors.

For more information, or to register for this excellent, free training program visit the Venture-Capital Ready website – and pass on this information to any women entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector that you think would be interested.

Another example of the way in which MWAF is working to support and advance women across the agriculture and food industry is its partnership with the Women’s Enterprise Centre Manitoba (WECM). MWAF provides a 75 per cent discount towards the cost of WECM’s online business plan workshop series to paid MWAF members that sign up for the course.

These are just two examples of how MWAF can benefit women in the industry, and we will be offering more free or discounted programs, sponsorships, training and networking opportunities in the near future.

To make sure you don’t miss opportunities sign up for our free monthly e-newsletter here. Also, check out our blog which discusses topics relevant to women across the sector and highlights women who are achieving success in their businesses and careers.

And visit our membership page to learn about the many benefits of joining us, some exclusive to MWAF members.

To effect real change toward gender equality and a more diverse and inclusive industry takes many people. That’s why MWAF is constantly developing new partnerships and collaborations with businesses and industry organizations that share its mission. Contact MWAF if you share our vision of a more equitable, diverse and inclusive industry and let’s talk about how we can work together to make our industry stronger.

The full report: The 2023 State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada is available here.

One of the things we love to do the most at MWAF is share the inspiring stories of Canadian women involved in all aspects of the agriculture and food industry. We celebrate common values, a shared passion for the industry and a commitment to supporting each other's goals. You can also learn what our stakeholders are doing to support the advancement of women in our industry. Be sure to come back often.