Federal funding to boost Windsor's women tech entrepreneurs

Friday, August 23, 2019

CBC News


The Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC) is set to receive up to $692,000 over the next four years, as part of a push by the federal government to support women entrepreneurs. 

The investment is part of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada's Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) — a $2 billion fund that "seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025," according to a media release.

WEEDC is one of nine organizations across Ontario receiving funding, as part of the WES Ecosystem Fund

Other groups include the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto, the Ontario East Economic Development Commission in Kingston and the PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise in Thunder Bay. 

Susan Anzolin, executive director of WEEDC's Institute for Border Logistics and Security, said her organization filed a proposal to the federal government along with the Windsor Essex Tech Alliance, Workforce Windsor Essex, the Windsor Essex Capital Angel Network (WECAN), the University of Windsor and Build the Dream.

WEEDC plans on using the investment to support women tech entrepreneurs, with each partner providing assistance in a way that speaks to the organization's strengths.  

For example, Anzolin said the group will providing funding to "support a women founders program" through the University of Windsor.

"We're looking at providing activities to support young women who are thinking about pursuing education in technology or pursuing entrepreneurship as a career," said Anzolin. 

The funding will also be used to help existing women entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses, those seeking capital and those looking to innovate within existing companies. 

"We call that 'Interpreneurship,'" said Anzolin. 

Anzolin said the funding allocated to WEEDC will be led by Sabrina DeMarco, the executive director of WEEDC's Small Business Centre.

"Over the next few months, we'll be communicating some of the activities and how people can access them," said Anzolin.

According to Anzolin, WEEDC still needs to negotiate when funding will be received. 

Approximately 16 per cent of Canadian small and medium enterprises in Canada are majority-owned by women, according to the federal government. Anzolin said that rate is approximately three per cent in Windsor. 

The federal government also announced a list of 74 women-led organizations set to receive up to $100,000 through the Women Entrepreneurship Fund (WEF), which also falls under the larger Women Entrepreneurship Strategy umbrella.