Mount Royal University has been selected to be part of the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub to help advance women’s entrepreneurship in Canada.
It’s part of the federal government’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.
“Women entrepreneurs will bring different competencies and focus on solving different problems, which will enhance the potential for future economic and societal growth,” said Elizabeth Evans, Dean of the Bissett School of Business at Mount Royal University, in a statement.
“The scope of this project will be much broader – from the expected interest in tech entrepreneurs to a full spectrum of business and cultural undertakings, such as artists, social entrepreneurs and the work of Indigenous women.”
The regional hubs, led by Ryerson University in Toronto, will receive close to $9 million over three years. The group also includes VentureLabs in Vancouver, the University of Manitoba, the PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise in Thunder Bay, Carleton University in Ottawa, Université de Montréal, OCAD University in Toronto and Dalhousie University in Halifax.
In a news release, Mount Royal pointed to research showing that about 16 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises are majority women-owned, while only 10 per cent of high-growth firms are owned by women and only about eight per cent of women-owned businesses export (goods and services).
“To advance the economic empowerment of women, we are investing in the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub to ensure that women entrepreneurs, the organizations that support them, government bodies and the private sector are equipped with the necessary information to better understand and assist women entrepreneurs in their efforts to start up, scale up and access new markets,” said Mary Ng, federal minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, in announcing the initiative.
MRU said women-led businesses face barriers in accessing capital. As well, women entrepreneurs are less likely to seek debt and equity financing, and are more likely to be rejected or receive less money.
“We see this locally as well. In fact, we see it in our own student entrepreneurs,” said Ray DePaul, director of MRU’s Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “While we have about a 30 per cent participation rate from female students (far better than the national average), very few are involved in high growth firms, and few continue after they graduate. The reasons are complex and require a thoughtful, national approach.”