The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada 2023

The State of Women's Entrepreneurship in Canada 2023

The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship (SOWE) annual report is a go-to resource for the most complete picture of research on women’s entrepreneurship in Canada. It spans sectors and regions across the country.

Some of the top findings from the 2023 SOWE report?

  • In 2022, 988,400 women in Canada were self-employed.
  • The number of women-owned businesses is growing—despite the crushing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • By our estimates, 18% of all businesses are majority owned by women in Canada—with more than 99% of these small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
  • Women-owned businesses focus more on innovation and are much more likely than men-owned businesses to put in place marketing innovations.

While these show women entrepreneurs are making progress, they continue to face challenges. Women have a hard time getting credit through financial institutions. They may not qualify for a loan, because their businesses tend to be smaller, have fewer employees and be in industries hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, like retail and hospitality. They also get less funding: the average amount of financing for men-owned businesses is about 150% higher than that for women-owned businesses.

The challenges are even greater for women with intersecting identities.

  • Indigenous women face barriers when accessing western financial services due to systemic exclusion that prevents them from meeting basic approval criteria.
  • Financing and borrowing costs for Black women entrepreneurs remain challenging; and they, like Indigenous women, must grapple with systemic racism, along with a lack of networking opportunities, mentorship and training.
  • Less than 1% of Canadian SMEs are owned by people living with a disability; the data is lacking on how many of these are women entrepreneurs.
  • There are more than 100,000 businesses in Canada owned by people who identify as 2SLGBTQ+, contributing more than $22 billion in economic activity. Yet these entrepreneurs face identity-related challenges, including discrimination, difficulty obtaining funding and government assistance, and harsh public evaluation.

Want to learn more about the barriers, enablers and progress in women’s entrepreneurship? Read the full report and stay tuned for sector- and region-specific insights and proposed solutions.

How to Cite

Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub. (2023). The state of women’s entrepreneurship in Canada 2023.

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