Kitchener-Waterloo

Laurier gets $1.38M from the feds to support women entrepreneurs

The federal government is adding an additional $10 million to its Women Entrepreneurship Fund and as part of that, Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo will receive $1.38 million to support women in the start-up phase of their businesses.

Funding will help women in early start-up stage to build their business

Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger announced Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo will receive $1.38 million to help women entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Wilfrid Laurier University is getting $1.38 million from the federal government to establish more female-owned businesses.

The university is getting the cash to support women entrepreneurs who are in the early start-up phase of their business or who want to grow using the business school's incubation and acceleration space.

The announcement was made Thursday at the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics by Waterloo MP Bardish Chagger.

She says 16 per cent of small-to-medium enterprises are owned or majority owned by women.

"That's not a very good number," she said.

The funding is part of the federal government's Women Entrepreneurship Fund, part of a strategy to double the number of female-owned businesses by 2025.

The government also announced an additional $10 million will be added to that fund, which is expected to be invested in approximately 100 projects.

While the funding has been promised now, it won't necessarily roll out until after the federal election.

Chagger said if the Liberals were to lose the election, she would hope the next government would honour that funding.

"Even when we took office, any of the commitments that were made, we satisfied. Unfortunately I can't speak for the others [parties]. But I do know that this is an important investment," she said.

More likely to be turned down

Business school dean Micheál Kelly said the school has a launch pad program to help students with their new businesses and about half of the students in that program are female founders and co-founders.

Kelly said they're also doing research into the barriers women face as they launch a company compared to men.

He said they know that when approaching venture capitalists for funding, women tend to be asked different questions than men, and they're turned down more often than their male counterparts.

"Women have not only more barriers but different barriers than male entrepreneurs, especially when it comes to financing," Kelly said.

"Just prepping women for things like that when they go in, to understand what kinds of questions they're going to be asked, how to deal with those questions, how to pitch their business, those things we've learned a lot about, both through research and through experience."

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