Scaling Women-Founded Firms: Exploring women entrepreneurs’ high-growth journeys

As part of the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH), we are exploring the experiences of women entrepreneurs related to high-growth scale-ups.
Scaling Women-Founded Firms: Exploring women entrepreneurs’ high-growth journeys

Project Team

Jill Earthy
Principal, Risery Consulting
Kim de Laat
SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Gender and the Economy, U of T
Meghan Hellstern
Senior Projects Officer
Jessica Thomson
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Heather Russek
Director of Policy Innovation

Why we’re doing this project

Launched in 2019 as part of the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) is building a national network and accessible digital platform for sharing research, resources, and leading strategies. The Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) is working with WEKH on a suite of action-oriented research projects on entrepreneurship in Canada, supporting the development of more inclusive policies, programs, and practices across Canada’s innovation ecosystem. 

As part of this suite of projects, BII+E, in collaboration with the Innovation Policy Lab at the University of Toronto Munk School of Global Affairs (IPL), is building the first complete picture of the state of high-growth companies in Canada: the National Scale-Up Index. This will include developing a new national index of Canadian high-growth companies, quantitative assessments of federal programs designed to support Canadian scale-ups, and gap analysis of the programming available. This work launches in Fall 2019 and concludes in Spring 2020. 

While our quantitative analysis is thorough and extensive, by nature it is not well-placed to answer experiential questions about topics like thoughts, feelings, stresses, joys, ambitions, perceived barriers, and other questions about individual subjective experiences. It also poses limits as to the depth of intersectional demographic analysis that can be done. 

To fill this research gap, BII+E is pursuing a qualitative research project to understand the experiences of women entrepreneurs as they scale their high-growth firms, building on the quantitative findings highlighted in the National Scale-Up Index. The project objectives are to:

  • Understand the experiences of women entrepreneurs in Canada as they scale their high-growth firms
  • Identify or confirm key barriers/gaps and opportunities for further investigation and exploration

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Our Approach

This project looks to gather qualitative data on the experiences of women entrepreneurs related to growing their businesses. It uses a variety of methods such as interviews and surveys to gather insights while also complementing this qualitative research with insights from the work happening on the quantitative National Scale-Up Index. 

Our use of the term “women”  is inclusive and includes trans woman, cis women, Two Spirit, genderqueer, gender-fluid, and non-binary individuals. Wherever possible this project seeks to include diverse voices and perspectives, including age, geography, sociocultural background, and other factors. 

This project’s findings will be shared in a report summarizing the key findings as well as identifying potential areas for further investigation and intervention. Creative outputs such as infographics and other innovative methods of sharing information will also be considered.

Our Partner

Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH)

Our Funder

The project is funded by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) as part of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.

Get Involved

Jill Earthy
Principal, Risery Consulting
Kim de Laat
SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Gender and the Economy, U of T
Meghan Hellstern
Senior Projects Officer
Jessica Thomson
Marketing and Communications Specialist
Heather Russek
Director of Policy Innovation

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