Growing Entrepreneurship Pathways

Successful entrepreneurs take different pathways – some exit jobs to create new companies, others enter entrepreneurship because they are excluded from employment. However, the general approach to growing entrepreneurship recognizes that different strategies are needed to encourage startups to scale and to sustain their growth. It has often been said that Canada does not have a start up problem but rather a scale up problem – the country has one of the highest rates of early stage companies in the world but is not achieving its potential for growth. There is also evidence that women entrepreneurs take different pathways than men and are more likely to grow small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from self-employment. Understanding the processes which drive and impede growth and ensuring that supports are tailored to each stage of growth is critical as is better coordination, integration and curation of services across the ecosystem.

Led by the Brookfield Institute and partners, the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub is studying the processes of scaling-up Canadian women led businesses. The Scaling Women-Founded Firm is a qualitative research project intended to build on the quantitative findings highlighted in the National Scale-Up Index to understand the experiences of women entrepreneurs in Canada as they scale their high-growth firms and to identify or confirm key barriers/gaps and opportunities for further investigation and exploration. A second project, the Scale-up Index Project, will extend our understanding of scale-up activity in Canada, by testing different definitions of scale-ups, as well as more rigorous measures of growth metrics (including productivity growth) including gender differences. It will focus on the challenges faced by scale-up companies in growing their business, engaging in export activity as well as pursuing government procurement contracts, and highlight any differences between scale-up firms owned by men compared to women.

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