There are grants and loans as well as unique crowdfunding opportunities designed specifically for women entrepreneurs. If you are trying to find funding for your startup, you may want to explore these resources.
Canada Business Network
The Canada Business Network provides advice and guidance to all kinds of entrepreneurs on Canadian business law, general business tips, and much more. The organization also maintains specific resources for women including a database of government grants, loans, and financing options. Many of the programs such as Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan are local programs that provide mentorship and funding to startups. As a result, it is important to check the site regularly to learn about programs in your area or find out about new funding options.
The Canada Business Network also has a search tool that allows you to search for loans, grants, equity loans, wage subsidies, and other types of funding. You can search for general grants, look for programs geared toward your industry, or investigate funding earmarked for women.
Startup Canada Communities
The Communities program from Startup Canada is a unique attempt at building grassroots networks between entrepreneurs in the same community. As of 2016, 20 communities are involved with the program, and these groups of professionals network, generate ideas, and mentor each other. In addition, entrepreneurs can often access startup funding through connections with investors and lenders in their communities. To submit an application or see if the program is available in your area, check out Startup Canada Communities.
According to the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada, women entrepreneurs tend to do well with crowdfunding, and in fact, on one crowdfunding platform, women entrepreneurs reach their goals 21% more often than men. This type of fundraising can lead to success, especially for women with engaged social media networks and products that resonate with their circles.
Although new companies pop up all the time, as of late 2016, there are no crowdfunding sites focused exclusively on women in the Canadian market. However, you can use the U.S.-based site, iFundWomen. The platform allows you to accept donations for your startup. In most cases, the funding comes from people in your direct network of friends, families, and online followers. but if you have a great pitch and a compelling idea, other donors may jump onto your opportunity, and as you don’t have to pay the funds back, it can be a useful way to generate risk-free startup financing.
If you don’t want to rely on donations, you may want to consider turning to equity crowdfunding. These platforms work in the same way as crowdfunding sites, but instead of giving money to your business, investors buy equity in your business. You also don’t have to pay back these funds, but the investors own a small “piece” of your company. This can be an effective way to tap into equity-based financing without a lot of experience. To get started, you may want to check out a site such as Seeds Up Canada.