On June 4, The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, announced that Women’s Enterprise Centre (WEC) will receive $2.7 million in funding from Western Economic Diversification Canada as part of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund.
Women’s Enterprise Centre is a non-profit organization that provides business loans, advisory services, training, mentoring and a supportive community to women business owners all over BC. Since 1995, WEC has helped thousands of women to start, lead and grow their own businesses from its offices in Kelowna, Victoria, Vancouver and the Tri-Cities area.
Now, thanks to funding for this four-year project, WEC will improve access to its services by adding more offices and business advisors in other regions, offering a mentoring program, expanding its support for exporters and developing new training, including programs designed for immigrant and Indigenous entrepreneurs.
“We are delighted to receive this funding to increase our direct support for women business owners,” says Laurel Douglas, CEO of Women’s Enterprise Centre.
The BC-based project aligns with the national strategy of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC), which also received funding last week as part of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy to create a national office for women’s business support organizations.
WEOC is an authority on women’s entrepreneurship in Canada, and its member organizations provide direct support to over 90,000 women entrepreneurs across Canada. With the funding, WEOC plans to coordinate efforts across the country, provide support for export and trade missions, engage in rural outreach and regional summits, disseminate best practices and further foster partnerships within the support ecosystem.
“The women’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is very strong across Canada, and it’s vital that we continue to nurture these important connections across the many sectors and regions in our country,” says Douglas, who is also a Director of WEOC.
“At WEC, we partner with over 70 organizations on average every year, working together to help women access financing, training, mentoring and high-quality programs. By coordinating our project in BC with that of our national organization, we’ll be able to increase our support for women-led businesses exponentially.”
The WEC funding announcement was made at the June 4 launch of the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which is another initiative of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy that will be a useful resource for the practitioners who are part of WEOC.
Women’s Enterprise Centre has a long history of supporting women entrepreneurs in BC. On average, its staff responds to over 10,000 inquiries every year from current and aspiring women business owners and, last year, they provided over 1,500 one-on-one business advisory sessions. Since its inception, WEC has provided over $64.9 million in direct and leveraged financing, which has created over $1.95 billion in economic activity in BC and has helped create or maintain over 3,100 jobs.