Women Entrepreneurship and Grants
As a women entrepreneur, how can you access grants to grow your business?
I come from a lineage of four generations of entrepreneurs. Before I started Granted in 2011, many of my family members and friends assumed that grants were exclusive to non-profit organizations and charities. As a woman entrepreneur* and CEO of a grant consulting firm, another common assumption was often raised.
“I’m a female/woman entrepreneur and was told there’s lots of grant funding available, can you tell me where to start looking for these resources?”
They are not alone, when I first started Granted more than a decade ago, I also made this assumption, particularly because I come from another underrepresented group: visible minority. You would think that being a female, of Chinese heritage, and under the age of ‘x’ when I first started my business would open me up to lots of grants. Education in grants was generally lacking and my goal for Granted was to change this.
While there are a number of foundations or private corporations that provide small grants to women entrepreneurs (i.e. $500 to $3000), the reality is that government funding is NOT often distributed by demography (of course, there are exceptions to this rule and Indigenous would be an example).
There are two key reasons for this:
- The Canadian government is the steward of taxpayer dollars and funding entrepreneurs based on their demographic background could be viewed as discriminatory;
- Funding is often tied to government objectives that transcend the background of those who apply. They include job creation, an increase in economic prosperity, an increase in exports, and innovation, among others.
So as a woman entrepreneur, how can you access grants to grow your business?
Here is a list of ideas to get you started:
- How can you increase your revenues? Is it through the development of innovative/novel solutions? If so, research and development grants and tax credits may be considered.
- Do you need to hire people to help grow your business? For example, post-secondary students to build your bench of talent, or recent graduates to provide job opportunities to those who lack experience. If so, hiring grants could be at play.
- Could your business benefit from upskilling through third-party resources (i.e. management training for a new manager, finance training for your accountant, safety training for your workers, etc.)? If so, training grants would help to offset the cost to your business.
- Are you looking to grow your market reach internationally? Market expansion to foreign countries where you don’t have a strong sales footprint yet is an option.
Where is there a benefit to being a woman in the entrepreneurial world?
- Loans: be it with chartered banks, the Business Development Bank of Canada, or Women Enterprise Centers across Canada, there are unique programs specific to women entrepreneurs.
- Mentorship and Education: Rhyze Up, The Forum, and Coralus provide various women-focused programs
While your gender doesn’t give you access to exclusive government-funded programs, there are lots of grant dollars that could be used to help your business expand and grow. Click here to link to our Small Business Guide to Grants for more details on grants for small businesses.
*Women Entrepreneur: Entrepreneurs who self-identify as women. This could include women who have founded businesses and/or maintain an ownership stake in a business, and manage and control regular functions of a business (including the signatory role of the business’ legal documents and financial accounts).