Female Entrepreneurship Loan Fund names first four recipients


By Lincoln DePradine

Dr Dori Tunstall

The federal government has set up a series of programs aimed at supporting Black entrepreneurship, providing help with access to financing and other activities such as financial planning, business training and mentorship. One of the programs is a Black Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund to assist in the long-term success of Black entrepreneurs and business owners.

African-Canadian female entrepreneurs could also have access to additional funding. The Canadian government has announced the first four not-for-profit organizations that have been chosen, after the receipt of applications, to deliver the $55 million Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund.

According to the government, “access to capital, particularly in smaller amounts, remains a significant barrier for many women entrepreneurs seeking to start or grow their businesses’’.

The Loan Fund, it says, “will seek to provide smaller amounts of affordable financing to women entrepreneurs, particularly for start-ups, underrepresented groups or sole proprietorships which may experience more difficulty in accessing financing’’.

“Access to capital, by far, has been the top issue that has been raised as a barrier for women succeeding in business,’’ government minister Mary Ng said in Toronto.

Ng, minister of international trade, export promotion, small business and economic development, was at the time unveiling the names of the organizations to deliver the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund.

Shannin Metatawabin

They are the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC); National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA); Northumberland Development Assistance Corporation in Cobourg; and the Toronto-based SheEO Canada.

“We are excited to leverage this capital in our community,’’ said Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO, whose board of directors includes Dr Dori Tunstall.

Tunstall, a U.S.-born design anthropologist and researcher, is dean of the faculty of design at OCAD – the Ontario College of Art and Design University. She’s the first Black dean of a faculty of design anywhere.

SheEO describes itself as a “radically generous community supporting women + non-binary people’’, who have “redefined success, networking, investment and mentorship across five countries in five years’’.

The WEOC is located in Winnipeg, Manitoba; and NACCA is Ottawa-based. “As the number of Indigenous women who are becoming business owners is growing, we anticipate there will be a high uptake in the microloan fund,’’ said NACCA CEO, Shannin Metatawabin.

“We welcome this additional support as it complements NACCA’s new Indigenous Women Entrepreneurship Program and it will enable us to support more Indigenous women through our network.”