$8 Million for Women Business Entrepreneurs
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$8 Million for Women Business

FedNor investing over $8 million for women entrepreneurs across Northern Ontario

The Government of Canada’s support will help women-led businesses and start-ups enhance productivity and increase competitiveness


 The Government of Canada understands that advancing gender equality and women's participation in the economy is crucial to all our success. This is why the federal government aims to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025.

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for FedNor and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Superior North was joined by Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, to announce $8,385,309 in FedNor funding for three projects with the PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise (PARO) to support women entrepreneurs across Northern Ontario.

Of the total FedNor investment, $6,261,160 will enable PARO to extend its Women's Enterprise Centre Northern Ontario (WECNO) initiative for two three-year periods, 2019-2022 and 2022-2025. WECNO is designed to help women entrepreneurs, including Indigenous women, start and grow businesses or expand access to export markets and supports women-led start-ups and companies throughout Northern Ontario. Since 2016, this highly successful initiative has supported over 1000 women-led businesses, while helping to create or maintain more than 1600 jobs.

The remaining $2,124,149 will enable PARO to implement the Enterprising Indigenous Women (EIW) initiative, a pan-Northern project that supports Indigenous women in their efforts to develop the knowledge and skills to start and grow successful businesses or social enterprises in Northern Ontario.


 “All of Canada thrives when we prioritize full and equal participation of women in the economy. Today’s announcement of $8,385,309 in FedNor funds is part of our government’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, which helps women grow their businesses across the country. Congratulations to our hard-working women entrepreneurs in Northern Ontario!”

  • The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for FedNor, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Superior North

“The Government of Canada is proud to support women entrepreneurs by providing resources, access to capital and skills training to support business growth and start-ups throughout Northern Ontario. This FedNor investment will help ensure women-led companies are well prepared to help drive our economy forward as we emerge from these challenging times.”

  • Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Rainy River

“Our partnership with the Government of Canada and FedNor will help women across Northern Ontario start up or take their business to the next level. We are excited to connect with more women entrepreneurs who are ready to start, grow or promote their business, while creating new opportunities for their communities and the region.”

  • Rosalind Lockyer, Founder & CEO, PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise

 Quick facts

  • The funding announced today is provided through the Government of Canada’s now-closed Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund as well as FedNor’s Northern Ontario Development Program, which support projects that promote sustainable community economic development, enhance business development and growth, and facilitate innovation.
  • PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise is one of Canada's most successful business support and networking organizations. As a not-for-profit social enterprise, the organization works to empower women, strengthen small business, and promote community economic development across Ontario.
    • To date, PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise has supported nearly 30,000 women, with over $4.9 million provided in grants from PARO programs, and over $10 million in total grants and loans to clients.


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