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Empowering Women Entrepreneurs to Unlock Their Full Potential

By Alex Conliffe and Jesse Darling
July 12, 2017

Today, we are excited to announce the launch of a design-led initiative that seeks to provide women entrepreneurs with the supports needed to unlock their full economic potential. This initiative between the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) and the Government of Ontario will use an innovative approach to identify targeted opportunities to support women entrepreneurs in Ontario. Those opportunities will then be outlined in a Call for Proposals, with successful applicants awarded funding to deliver program interventions.

This initiative supports the Government of Ontario’s commitment to engage with key stakeholders over the summer on how to support the economic empowerment of women at all income levels. Helping small and medium-sized businesses grow and expand is a key pillar of the Government of Ontario’s Business Growth Initiative.

“For any entrepreneur, having the right tools and resources is critical to making a business succeed. Through initiatives like this, our government is empowering aspiring women entrepreneurs and helping them get the support they need to start and grow their businesses and create a stronger economy.”Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Growth, Government of Ontario
“It’s so important that the economic empowerment of women include strengthening opportunities for women entrepreneurs. The reality is, creating and building a business can be as challenging as it is rewarding. This initiative is an innovative partnership with government, to open new doors to success for women entrepreneurs.” Indira Naidoo-Harris, Minister of the Status of Women, Government of Ontario

BII+E looks forward to engaging with the Government of Ontario and key stakeholders, including women entrepreneurs, to co-develop a clear understanding of the most strategic opportunities to improve supports for women entrepreneurs in Ontario.

To do this, BII+E will convene diverse stakeholders from across the ecosystem to participate in a lab-style workshop early fall 2017. Participants will be guided through a series of facilitated activities to identify 1-2 priority areas that hold the greatest potential for impact. With these priority areas identified, BII+E will conduct user interviews to hear first-hand from women entrepreneurs about the barriers they face. Insights generated from these interviews will help to develop a robust understanding of where funding should be targeted.

With a clear understanding of the most strategic opportunities to improve supports to women entrepreneurs in Ontario, BII+E will refine the scope and framing of the problem statement and design a Call for Proposals that reflects those needs. We will publicly launch the Call for Proposals late fall 2017 and close the Call by year end. The successful applicant(s) to the Call for Proposals will be awarded funding to deliver program interventions that test new mechanisms to overcome a specific barrier that women entrepreneurs face. Successful candidates will be notified in winter 2018.

As part of our commitment to learn out loud, we’ll be sharing our process and learnings along the way.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about this initiative, please get in touch with us by emailing

For media enquiries, please contact Coralie D’Souza, Director of Communications, Events + Community Relations at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship.

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