Addressing Funding Gaps with Innovative Finance Models for Women Entrepreneurs

Women entrepreneurs, who tend to lead smaller enterprises with less access to funding that are heavily concentrated in the hard-hit service sector, have felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their businesses more acutely than others. The hurdles that women entrepreneurs in Canada faced before COVID-19 have become even more daunting as Canadian businesses adjust to a new landscape.

Access to capital remains one of the most significant challenges, and new barriers continue to emerge. The data confirms this: while women are majority owners of 15.6% of small and medium-sized enterprises with one or more employees but represent 38% of all self-employed Canadians. Research by the Diversity Institute confirms that racialized, Black, Indigenous, and disabled women entrepreneurs face even more structural barriers. 

On June 26, 2020, WEKH hosted a network call featuring two panel discussions that considered the gaps women entrepreneurs must traverse in navigating the financial system, and the innovative approaches some organizations are taking to close them.

Dr. Wendy Cukier, Founder and Academic Director of the Diversity Institute and WEKH Lead, opened the call with an insightful overview of the state of women entrepreneurship in Canada amid a global pandemic. 

“One of the things that we are particularly preoccupied with at the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, and I know many of you share this commitment, is making sure that as we go forward with recovery we’re not leaving anyone behind,” Dr. Cukier says.

“In these times, many are struggling but others are struggling more than others.”

Were you unable to attend the webinar? Watch it here.

Ashley Richard, Outreach and Partnership Development Lead Indigenous at the WEKH, moderated our first panel featuring:

We are pleased to have Shannon Pestun join the WEKH as Senior Advisor, Financing and Business Services. Shannon moderated the second panel featuring:

Paulina Cameron, CEO at the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, concluded our call and highlighted how the WEKH/FWE: Sharing Platform is helping to strengthen the women entrepreneurship ecosystem. The concept, created by SheEO, is simple: Ask for what you or your business needs, and Give what you can to support others. Learn more and sign-up at

Thank you!

Our sincere thanks to all who joined us for these critical conversations, and to our expert panelists for sharing their expertise and experiences. 

We will feature a closer look at the panel discussions on our blog in the coming days. Stay-tuned!

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