A report published Tuesday outlines recommendations to help female entrepreneurs find success in Saskatchewan.
Enabling Scale in Saskatchewan: Report of the Saskatchewan Advisory Committee on the Gender Entrepreneurship Gap was presented by the Government of Saskatchewan's status of women office and created by the Saskatchewan advisory committee on the gender entrepreneurship gap.
The Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK) said in a statement that in 2019, women entrepreneurs contributed $23.1 billion to the Saskatchewan economy and created 191,836 jobs.
"That economic impact is remarkable and that economic impact can be amplified by addressing some of the recommendations that the committee has identified," Prabha Mitchell, CEO of WESK, said.
The report aims to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs. The committee's recommendations focus on enhancing access to capital, developing scale-enabling policies, streamlining access to data, programs and networks, and enhancing awareness and support.
Mitchell said there is the potential to add $6.3 billion to $17 billion to the provincial GDP by supporting women in expanding their businesses.
Getting the money to start a business is one of the big hurdles women face, the report says.
It says women face challenges with funding due to unconscious or conscious bias when applying for funding and recommends setting up a pool of angel investors to help fund new projects.
"They are investing because they support the business and they want to see the business succeed," Mitchell said. "That, I think, is important in terms of changing and shifting the dynamics."
Another recommendation is based on childcare. Mitchell said even people on the committee have felt the impacts due to a lack of access to childcare when working on their own businesses. Mitchell said growing a business requires long hours and hard work.
Recommendations in the report include:
- Create incentives for angel investors and other lenders to fund female entrepreneurs.
- Find and match mentors to help female entrepreneurs.
- Have a digital hub to give women access to resources, programs, services, mentors, experts and peers.
- Define measures and metrics for short and long term success and monitor business to assess future progress.
- Incentivize a job-growth mechanism to encourage all businesses to expand, regardless of ownership.
- Create a growth innovation fund to identify and support women-led businesses with high potential.
- Provide enhanced incentives for childcare expenses and create co-working spaces that include childcare.
- Develop partnerships with post-secondary institutions to help financial literacy as well as educate and empower women who are aspiring entrepreneurs.
- Raise awareness of female entrepreneurs by profiling them and their challenges, opportunities and successes.
- Collaborate with other organizations create a brand to identify and support local women entrepreneurs.
Mitchell said all the recommendations are equally important. She said some will need government policy approval, while others could be worked on by community members right away. She hopes to see the recommendations implemented in the next decade during the Saskatchewan Party's growth plan, but would like to see them begin as soon as possible.
Specific challenges for Indigenous women, newcomer women and young women were not addressed in this report. Mitchell said that's something they identified and hope to look into in the future.