State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada 2024 Report: Preliminary Findings

The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) has released preliminary findings from its annual State of Women’s Entrepreneurship (SOWE) in Canada report. The research shows women entrepreneurs are benefitting from Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) and that women business ownership is holding steady.

Averaging the quarterly Canadian Survey on Business Conditions reports, WEKH researchers estimate that in 2023 18.4% of businesses, including small, medium and large businesses, are majority owned by women. (Small and medium-sized enterprises [SMEs] account for 99.8% of these.) This compares to a 2022 average of 18%, which was an increase from 16.8% in 2020.  

The report also shows the impact of Canada’s $7 billion WES, which aims to increase women-owned businesses’ access to financing, networks and expertise to start up, scale up and access new markets. Of 510 women in the WES program surveyed, more than three-quarters of respondents reported that they participated in new industries following their engagement in WES. They also reported increased participation in innovation (65.9%), including new business processes and models, products and services, and sustainability practices. More than one-half (52.2%) formed new support networks; 43.2% gained new advisors and 41.3% networked with other entrepreneurs in the same industry.

Some other preliminary findings from this year’s SOWE report: 

  • Canadian women were more engaged in total early-stage entrepreneurial activities compared to the global average (14.8% vs 10.1%).
  • More than 80% of women entrepreneurs are self-employed, and women are 37.2% of the self-employed population.
  • Women entrepreneurs lag behind men entrepreneurs in earnings, with 37.1% earning less than $50,000 annually compared to 31.7% of men entrepreneurs; and 10.9% of women entrepreneurs earning more than $150,000 compared to 14.8% of men entrepreneurs.
  • Women entrepreneurs are more likely to adopt sustainability initiatives than are men entrepreneurs. Over one-third (33%) of women-owned businesses work to reduce waste.
  • Indigenous businesses are majority-owned by women at a higher rate than the Canadian population (24.7%).
  • About 19.2% of small businesses in Canada are majority-owned by racialized individuals. 
  • 47.5% of women-owned businesses had their employees trained in the necessary skills for their business compared to 41.9% of all businesses.

To learn more about the preliminary findings, download the short overview—and stay tuned for the full release of SOWE 2024 later this spring.

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