How This Women’s Initiative Is Helping Small Business Owners

By Melissa Houston

Women are less likely to receive funding for their businesses. If they get funding, female entrepreneurs achieve as much success as male entrepreneurs, yet only 2.2% of women received VC funding in 2021.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative has increased its commitment to funding women’s businesses to $10B by 2025. This initiative was founded in 2018 because women entrepreneurs face unique challenges when growing and sustaining their businesses and, to date, has funded $4B to women-led companies. Aware of the gender bias for business owners, the hope is to help break down those biases and barriers through the program.

According to the 2022 State of Women’s Entrepreneurship, women owners account for a large percentage of new businesses (37.4% of self-employment in 2019) in Canada, employing over 1.5 million employees and contributing about $150 billion to the economy. Despite the significant contribution of women entrepreneurs, it can be challenging for women and nonbinary entrepreneurs to gain access to capital to grow and invest in their businesses.

The Scotiabank Women Initiative was founded on three pillars:

1. Fair and unbiased access to capital

By offering various financing options, Scotiabank is bridging the access to the capital gap for women-led to fit your business objectives.

2. Mentorship and advice

The program offers you the opportunity to take financial control of your business through the various educational events it provides.

3. Specialized education women entrepreneurs looking for

The program connects business owners with mentors who offer 1:1 support to them and their businesses to help their businesses grow and succeed.

Speaking with Sloane Muldoon, Scotiabank, Senior Vice President, Retail Performance and Co-Chair of The Scotiabank Women Initiative, Muldoon states that “funding women is a significant economic opportunity. Women contribute $150 Billion to the GDP Canadian economy and employ more than 1.5 million people.”

“Initially, the program was open to Canadians only; however, it has expanded to Jamaica and Costa Rica, and Scotiabank intends to penetrate further, expand it to global wealth management and global banking and markets,” states Muldoon.

There have been a few success stories of being able to help women entrepreneurs and making a real difference. Robin Kovitz, the President and CEO of Baskits Inc. – a gift basket business and one of Canada’s fastest-growing companies – wasn’t an easy path to success. Even though the company has always been profitable, Robin has a Harvard MBA and extensive experience in investment banking and private equity. Sadly, she couldn’t secure any credit until joining The Scotiabank Women Initiative.

Ana Stevens is co-founder of Pepper North Artisan Foods – one of Canada’s fastest-growing hot sauce brands, who found success with The Scotiabank Women’s Initiative. It helped Ana expand and scale her business after she was having difficulty securing the funding needed to fulfil large purchase orders. Ana also benefited from the program’s ongoing education and mentorship opportunities.

The bottom line is that gender biases that continue to affect women need to change. The Scotiabank Women’s Initiative program is a step in the right direction to help equalize access to funding for women, but we need more funding for women.


Photo Source: Mathieson & Hewitt Photographers