The Canadian government has announced $960,000 in funding for the Information and Communications Technology Council in Toronto to aid women entrepreneurs.

The funding will support the project: “Changing the Narrative – Unleashing the Full Potential of Women-owned Enterprises”, which aims to foster innovation, enhance workforce diversity and tackle systemic barriers experienced by women entrepreneurs, with a focus on Black and official language minority communities.

According to the Women and Gender Equality governmental department, supporting equal opportunities for women in business could add $150bn to Canada’s gross domestic product by 2026.

This is promising for the Canadian retail market, which was valued at $473bn in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of more than 4% by 2027.

Based on 2020 government data, only 16.8% of Canadian SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) are majority-owned by women. These are more likely to operate in young, small, low-growth and underfinanced sectors such as retail trade and other service sectors. These factors make it harder to access and secure financing.

The government of Canada states that it will continue to collaborate with women’s organisations and experts to advance intersectional approaches and build a more inclusive economy for women entrepreneurs.

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Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth Marci Ien commented: “In the digital age, the success of our economy is intertwined with the success of women-led businesses. We are thrilled the government of Canada is investing in this program to unlock the full potential of women entrepreneurs.”

Globally, declining numbers of female retail CEOs have also raised gender representation concerns in recent years.