Group increases efforts to recruit women entrepeneurs

An Island group is hoping to increase the number of businesses owned by women through a new mentoring program.

17% of businesses in Atlantic Canada solely owned by women

An Island group is hoping to increase the number of businesses owned by women through a new mentoring program.

The executive director of the PEI Women's Business Association says while change has been slow, there have been dramatic shifts over the last 40 years.

"People are really shocked when we talk sometimes about how you couldn't get a mortgage on your own as a woman, you would have to have a co-signer," said Hannah Bell. "Those things take a long time to shift and change."

According to Statistics Canada numbers from 2011 about 17% of businesses in Atlantic Canada are solely owned by women. Recent statistics echo that.

While Atlantic Canada's number is the highest in the country, it's not good enough according to the association. 

Bell says in an effort to increase the numbers, women who have had business success will be coming forward to share their stories and network with new entrepreneurs.

Percentage of solely owned businesses in Canada
Canada 13.4
Atlantic  16.9
Quebec 15.0
Ontario 13.2
Prairies 11.1
B.C. 13.3


"You can't be what you can't see," said Bell. "We need to know that there are women that have gone out and set up a successful business."

One of the those women is Gillian McCrae, founder of the tech company Get Gifted, who is branching out from PEI to other Maritime provinces with her service offering discounts to local 

"Look at those that are already successful. They've done really good things. For their communities, for their companies, so I just think the more women do it, the better off the world is," says McCrae.

The new program will begin as part of National Women's History Month.