March 8 marks International Women’s Day – a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
It’s a day to think seriously about the power of entrepreneurship to drive social change. In Canada, over 1 million women are entrepreneurs, with 15 per cent of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses, about 110,000 companies, are owned by women. And that number continues to grow! In fact, over the past 40 years, the number of female entrepreneurs has quadrupled.
Despite recent advances, gender inequality is still an issue in the world of entrepreneurship. Women face barriers in accessing capital, are less likely to seek debt and equity financing, and are more likely to be rejected or receive less money. The full and equal participation of women in the economy is essential to Canada’s future competitiveness and prosperity. The Government of Canada has identified that continuing to increase women’s participation in the economy could add up to $150 billion towards Canada’s GDP.
Many women entrepreneurs, however, have continued to innovate, create new jobs, export, and drive economic growth. Some are leading high-growth ventures. While women have historically been underrepresented in the high-growth start-up space, the number of new women-founded start-ups with a valuation of more than US$1 billion in Canada has almost doubled since 2019. Women’s entrepreneurship not only has a clear impact on economic growth and job creation, but it also plays an important role in contributing to broader social and environmental goals.
Airdrie is no stranger to incredible and hard-working women entrepreneurs. From cleaning companies, cannabis operations, clothing boutiques, personal services, eateries, florists, fitness studios and niche retail stores – women touch, manage and run many facets of our community. And the proof is in the pudding: 92 out of our 133 SMARTstart graduates have been female, and we are fortunate to have 29 female mentors between our two entrepreneurial training programs – SMARTstart and AdvanceSMART.
We want more women entrepreneurs; we want more women in leadership positions, and more women in tech. Let’s help Canada reach its goal of doubling female entrepreneurs by 2025 as part of the federal Women’s Entrepreneurship Strategy.
We can work towards this goal by taking the time to visit and support our local women-owned businesses. Their contributions continue to be vital to the health and liveliness of our city, province, and country.
Today and every day we admire all of the talented, brave and powerful women in our business community who make Airdrie a better place to live, work and do business.
Resources for female entrepreneurs:
Airdrie Economic Development: 403-948-8844
Alberta Women Entrepreneurs: www.awebusiness.com
Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub: www.wekh.ca
Adena Malyk is an Economic Development Officer with the City of Airdrie.