The École des entrepreneurs du Québec has received a $3.2 million investment from the federal government’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund. The post-secondary educational institution specializes in offering support on launching, growing and selling businesses – in addition to loans, grants and business financing. Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, during her recent visit to Startupfest in Montreal, said the new funding would be used to support women entrepreneurs. “The École des entrepreneurs du Québec is a wonderful organization. They’re building capacity for all women entrepreneurs,” she told Canadian start-up news and tech source BetaKit. “This is about being able to build the right tools and the right supports for women entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses in Québec.”
Ng did not specify how the funds would be allocated or used, but the school specializes in several business areas – including commercialization, export market development, industrial and sustainable development, retail and social economy. Founded in Montréal in 1985 by Service Aide Jeunes Entreprises, the educational institution now has four locations across Quebec in Bas-Saint-Laurent, Mauricie, Montreal and Outaouais. In a separate statement, the Government of Canada said that it’s committed to advancing gender equality, women’s economic empowerment, and supporting women entrepreneurs through the new Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (the Strategy), announced in the 2018 budget.
As part of the strategy, the federal government is ensuring that women across Canada have access to the business supports they need to start or grow a business. “The WES Ecosystem Fund is investing $85 million over five years to strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem and close gaps in service for women entrepreneurs.” Projects must be led by non-profit organizations (including social enterprises and cooperatives) and be inclusive of the needs of diverse and under-represented women. The fund seeks to address gaps and build capacity in the entrepreneurship ecosystem for women. Under this initiative, activities could include:
- Supplier diversity activities that target women entrepreneurs
- Initiatives to support women in traditionally under-represented sectors
- Networking, matchmaking and mentorship opportunities
- Incubator and accelerator programs
- Initiatives to support the participation of diverse and under-represented women entrepreneurs
- Efforts to scale up programs that support women entrepreneurs across regions and on a national basis
- Other activities that will support the objectives of the WES Ecosystem Fund
Funding is available through two streams:
- National/Multi-Regional Stream. $15 million dollars will fund projects which are national or multi-regional in scope. Priority will be given to national projects that deliver benefits in all provinces and territories. The minimum funding amount that will be considered for a national or multi-regional project is $1 million. A multi-regional project is one that combines three or more of the following regions: Western Canada, Northern Ontario, Southern Ontario, Quebec, Atlantic Canada and Northern Canada.
- Regional Stream. $70 million of the WES Ecosystem Fund investment will go towards projects delivered in specific regions.