Women’s business growth can provide major boost to Canadian economy, but increased support needed

Nov 7, 2011 | Business News and Tips, Government News

The Canadian Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth is calling for governments at all levels to do more to support Canadian women entrepreneurs. Describing such efforts as an essential strategy for sustained economic growth in Canada, the Taskforce says that a 20% increase in total revenues among majority female-owned enterprises will contribute an additional $2 billion a year to the Canadian economy.

Sandra Altner is the CEO of The Women's Enterprise Centre of Manitoba

“Women-led businesses in Canada represent a huge economic opportunity for our country,” says Barbara Orser, Chair of the Taskforce and Deloitte Professor at the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management. “Majority women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises represent  over $117 billion per annum of economic activity in Canada.” The Taskforce also reports that women-owned firms fail to grow as quickly as firms led by men. These differences are reflected in Canada’s productivity and competitiveness.

Industry Canada reports that, in 2007, 47 percent of Canada’s 1.6 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) were wholly or partly owned by women, and 16 percent of Canadian SMEs were exclusively owned by women. In addition, more than 900,000 of the 2.6 million self-employed workers in Canada are women. However, the average revenue of majority female-owned firms was $563,000 compared with $1,126,000 for majority male-owned firms.

According to Sandra Altner, CEO of the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba and member of the Taskforce, “The impact that women entrepreneurs are having on the Manitoba economy has increased significantly over the past ten years. Our team at the Centre is always looking for creative ways to assist women as they address the challenges of business start and growth. While we have had a good track record, enhanced support from all levels of government would enable us to increase the services we are able to deliver to women throughout Manitoba.”

The Taskforce is calling for a concerted effort to mobilize this underdeveloped segment of our economy through a five-point strategy, that is:

1. Create a national women-focused economic development strategy

2. Create business stimulation programs to develop new markets and grow globally

3. Create and implement measureable supplier diversity procurement objectives for all federal agencies and departments

4. Enhance women’s financial literacy and their awareness of gender influences in firm capitalization through training and other incentives

5. Increase the adoption of technology in women-led firms through training and other incentives.

About the Taskforce

The Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth is a national and non-partisan consortium of prominent female business owners, small-business service agencies, academics and industry associations. Founded in 2009, the Taskforce aims to accelerate the growth of women’s enterprises through the creation of appropriate public policy, advocacy, research, and sharing of best practices. In 2010 and 2011, the Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth http://sites.telfer.uottawa.ca/womensenterprise/ initiated a series of roundtables across Canada to identify policies and programs to speed the growth and success of women business owners and self-employed workers. Participants included more than 200 prominent women business owners and self-employed workers, industry-association representatives, academics and other thought leaders.

The Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba

The Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba (WEC) has helped thousands of women throughout the province find information, improve their skills and acquire financing so that they can start, expand or purchase an existing business. A non-profit organization established by Western Economic Diversification Canada in 1994, it was the first business support centre specifically for women in Western Canada.

In addition to its core services of business training, financing and one-on-one business advising, the Centre has launched several innovative initiatives to assist women at every business stage. http://www.wecm.ca/

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