Women’s entrepreneurship in Canada Blog 14

12, December,  2017 – Blog #14

Women’s entrepreneurship in Canada

Women’s entrepreneurship continues to attract a great deal of attention and interest around the globe, given growing evidence of its economic and social impact. Initiatives such as the World Bank’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Financing Initiative  (WE-FI), and Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women Program , are just two examples of a growing range of initiatives aimed at supporting and encouraging women-led business. Within this global context, Canada has emerged as a leader in women’s entrepreneurship, with the highest levels of early-stage activity (TEA), and the fifth highest established business ownership (EBO), amongst innovation-based economies.

The GEM Canada Report on Women’s Entrepreneurship highlights the strength of women’s entrepreneurship in Canada. Some highlights from the report:

  • In 2016, 13.3% of Canadian women engaged in some form of early stage business activity, involving a business that was 3.5 years old or younger. This was up from 10.0% in 2014, and marked the highest rate of women’s TEA in 2016 amongst comparable innovation-based countries.
  • Comparing Canada to other G7 countries—such as the U.K. (5.6%), Germany (3.1%), France (3.4%), and Italy (3.3%)—helps to underline the striking and high level of Canadian women’s participation in early-stage business.
  • 6% of Canadian women were engaged in established businesses – those more than 3.5 years old – the fifth highest rate among comparable countries.
  • Canadian women entrepreneurs are found across all age groups, though start-up rates are highest among women aged 25-44, while the majority of established business owners fall between 55-64 years of age.
  • Women entrepreneurs are highly educated, with 12% having a graduate degree and 53.8% having a college or university degree.
  • 82% of women indicated they were motivated to start a new business by opportunities, up notably from 70% in 2014, while only 14.5 % were motivated by necessity.
  • Early stage women entrepreneurs are heavily involved in consumer services (54.4%), followed by business services (28.2%) and manufacturing (14.6%)
  • For established businesses, the pattern is different and much more evenly distributed between consumer services (41.2%) and business services (41.2%). This greater presence in business services is important and encouraging, given that business services is typically a much more profitable sector, one that is increasingly recognized as driving innovation and business growth according to research on the ‘knowledge-intensive business service’ sector (KIBS). 19.2%)


The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) is the world’s largest study of entrepreneurship, and typically covers 60-70 countries each year with a standardized methodology allowing ‘apples to apples’ comparison between countries.  In Canada GEM reports are carried out by the Centre for Innovation Studies (THECIS) based in Calgary.  This report was written by Karen Hughes a Professor at the Alberta School of Business and the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta.  The full report is available at https://tinyurl.com/y94gxqpn

Peter Josty




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