Women Entrepreneur Grants: Do You Know These 45 Programs for Women-Owned Businesses?

Looking for grants for your female-owned business?

You’re in the right place!

Because on this page we explain everything about women entrepreneur financing in Canada, including female entrepreneur grants, small business loans for women, and much more!

What is a Women Entrepreneur Grant?

The Government of Canada defines a grant as:

a transfer payment subject to pre-established eligibility and other entitlement criteria. A grant is not subject to being accounted for by a recipient nor normally subject to audit by the department. The recipient may be required to report on results achieved.

So, a grant for a female-owned business is:

  • A non-repayable transfer payment that is available to women-owned businesses;
  • Subject to specific eligibility criteria; and
  • May or may not need to be reported on.

What Can Female Entrepreneurs Business Grants Be Used For?

Female entrepreneur business grants can be used to pay for many aspects of starting or running a business. Here are some of the uses that are covered by programs in our grants database:

  • Starting a women-owned business
  • Expanding your women-owned business
  • Working capital for your women-owned business

And that’s just a sample! See the section below with a complete list of grants available for female entrepreneurs.

How Much Grant Money Can I Get for My Female Entrepreneurs Business?

In our database we currently have grants ranging from $2,000 to $25,000.

Am I Eligible for a Female Entrepreneurs Business Grant? Common Eligibility Criteria

Two of the most common questions we get asked at Ontario Business Grants are “Am I eligible?” and “How do I qualify?”.

We analyzed the female entrepreneur business grants in our grants database, and these are the most common qualifications we identified:

  • Be women entrepreneurs
  • Be women companies generating revenue or having a customer base
  • Be for-profit women-owned companies incorporated in Canada

Note: these are just the most common eligibility criteria – there are many grants with different requirements.

Female Entrepreneurs Grants for Ontario: Current Grants Available

In the table below we list the grants currently available to female entrepreneurs in Canada.

To learn more about each program, just click the program name and you’ll be taken to a web page that provides detailed information on the program, including eligibility, the dollar amount of the program, and how to apply for the grant:

Grants for Female Entrepreneurs

How to Apply for Female Entrepreneur Grants: Follow These 6 Steps

  1. Gather all available grants. We cover women’s business funding programs in this guide – but did you know there are additional programs available for different demographic groups (such as young entrepreneurs, Black entrepreneurs, and others), as well as programs for different funding purposes (such as hiring, training, R&D, exporting, energy efficiency improvements, and much more)?
  1. Find grants that are a close fit with your business goals. Review the application requirements to find out whether your business is eligible. When your business goals fit a particular type of grant, you have better chances of getting matched to it. You want to devote your time and energy to grants where you have the highest potential of winning
  1. Contact the grant agencies. If you want to gain more understanding on what qualities the agencies are looking for in their grant applicants, there is no better way than to go right to the source. If possible, contact the agency questions and look for areas where you can stand out from the rest.
  1. Get your plan in place. This plan should include a one-page draft of your grant application statement.
  1. Gather your documents. Grant organisations often ask their applicants to provide a business plan and other pertinent documents. If you organise your documents in advance, you’ll be ready to submit them when the grant agency requests them.
  1. Submit an excellent application. Make sure you follow all requirements of the grant program (which you can find in the grant program guide) to increase your chances of success.

Bonus Tip:

  1. Consider other types of funding. Besides grants, there are dozens of different types of funding that women entrepreneurs can go after, from crowdfunding to business competitions, loans to incubators.

Other Types of Funding for Female Entrepreneur Businesses

Our goal is for this guide to be a complete source of funding information for female entrepreneurs. So, in this section you’ll find all the other money programs (besides grants) that are available to women-owned businesses:


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    Loans for Female Entrepreneurs Businesses

    • Government Loans for Female Entrepreneurs

    A loan might not sound as good as a grant, but many loans for female entrepreneurs have a low interest rate. While they might not be free money, if you don’t qualify for a grant, a low-interest loan is probably the next best thing.

    Government Loans for Female Entrepreneurs

    • Commercial Loans for Female Entrepreneurs Businesses

    If you’re not eligible for a government loan, you might consider one of the commercial loans available for Female Entrepreneurs. Below is a loan program offered by an Ontario credit union that is available specifically for female entrepreneurs:

    • Subsidies for Female Entrepreneurs

    A subsidy is a type of financial assistance usually provided by the government in order to promote a social good or an economic policy. Wage subsidies are the most common subsidies.

    In the table below you’ll find a subsidy currently available for female entrepreneurs:

    Subsidies for Female Entrepreneurs

    • Investments for Female Entrepreneurs

    An investment is a form of financing where capital is provided in exchange of ownership in the company.  It is an alternative to conventional methods of raising capital (loans, issuing stocks, selling bonds) and the good thing about it is that you do not have to make monthly payments. Common investment includes private equity and venture capital.

    Here is the government’s investment program currently available for female entrepreneurs:

     Investment for Female Entrepreneurs

    • Competitions for Female-Owned Businesses

    A business competition is a contest where entrepreneurs and start-ups present their business plans to a panel of judges for the chance to win prizes and/or funding. These contests are typically organized by universities, government agencies, private companies, and non-profit organizations.

    In the table below you’ll find business competitions currently available:

    Business Competitions/Contests for Women-Owned Businesses

    Name of ProgramAmountType
    Longo Centre for Entrepreneurship (Humber College) - BMO Launch Me Entrepreneurship Program & Comp$15000 Competition
    TiE Global - TiE Womenno fixed amountCompetition, In-Kind Support
    Invest Ottawa - SheBoot$150000 Competition, Entrepreneurship Program
    • In-Kind Support Programs for Female Entrepreneurs

    In-kind support refers to non-cash resources provided to support businesses and can take various forms: access to coaching, mentorship, investors, logistical and technical resources (space, equipment, computers, internet and software, free testbed), training programs, business advice and counseling.

    Entrepreneurship centres, accelerators and incubators provide valuable in-kind support to new and existing entrepreneurs.

    In-Kind Support for Women-Owned Businesses

    Entrepreneurship Programs for Women-Owned Businesses

    Name of ProgramAmountType
    DMZ - Black Innovation Connections$5000Entrepreneurship Program, Grant
    Invest Ottawa - SheBoot$150000 Competition, Entrepreneurship Program
    Startup Canada - Startup WomenN/AEntrepreneurship Program
    ventureLAB - Tech UndividedN/AEntrepreneurship Program
    Innovation Guelph - Rhyze Ventures: Social Enterprise StreamN/AEntrepreneurship Program
    Innovation Guelph - Rhyze Ventures: Scalable Business StreamN/AEntrepreneurship Program
    Innovation Guelph - Rhyze Ventures: Small Business StreamN/AEntrepreneurship Program
    Communitech Fierce Founders N/AInvestment

    Accelerators for Women-Owned Businesses

    Best Female Entrepreneur Business Grants, Loans & More

    While there are lots of good programs available, below we highlight some of the best grants, loans, investment & more for Female Entrepreneurs:

    Best Government Loan for Female Entrepreneurs

    Farm Credit Canada (FCC) – Women Entrepreneur Program

    Farm Credit Canada is dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs in the agriculture, agri-food, and agri-business sectors. In fact, they’ve set aside $500 million just to help you with loan programs, conferences, learning events, and more.

    While you can—and should—take advantage of their additional benefits such as the learning opportunities, consider taking advantage of their loan programs. You’ll get special rates and repayment terms that you won’t find elsewhere, and you’ll even get a one-time waiver of processing fees equal to up to $1,000.

    Best Non-profit Grants for Female Entrepreneurs

    PARO – Peer Lending Circles – A Micro-Finance Program for Women

    Peer lending circles are small groups of like-minded women who meet regularly to share their experiences, offer advice to each other and expand their individual and shared contact networks.

    Circles are small groups of 4 to 7 women, who are over the age of 18, each of whom currently operates their own business, wishes to start their own business, or believes in women helping women. One of the key elements of a Peer Circle is that members also provide access to lending support of between $500 and $5,000.

    PARO – Enterprising Indigenous Women

    PARO’s Enterprising Indigenous Women program is designed for Indigenous women seeking to start their own business or further develop their existing business. The program assists Indigenous women from remote and rural Northern Ontario, with a priority focus on those living on the remote First Nations to start, grow, and scale businesses.

    ventureLAB – Entrepreneurship Fund: Underrepresented Founders

    ventureLAB is committed to contributing to levelling the playing field for underrepresented founders by opening more doors to capital. This year, the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund is awarding $10,000 of funding to 7 eligible companies comprised of underrepresented founders.

    WomensNet’s Amber Grant Foundation – Monthly and Year-end Amber Grants

     WomensNet awards a monthly Amber Grant of $10,000 and 4 monthly grants of $1,000 to women-owned businesses. The $10,000 Amber Grant winner each month qualifies for the Year-end Amber Grant of $25,000.

    Bank of Montreal (BMO)’s BMO Celebrating Women Grant Program

    Best Non-profit Loans for Female Entrepreneurs

    CORALUS – Coralus

    Coralus brings together hundreds of radically generous women called Activators who contribute $1100 each (or twelve monthly payments of $92) for Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the USA; or £850 (or twelve monthly payments of £71) for the UK. That money is pooled and then loaned out in the form of 0%-interest 5 year loans to women-led Ventures whom the Activators help select. As the money is paid back into the fund, it’s loaned out again to support more women-led Ventures each year.

    Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (Northumberland CFDC) – DELIA

    DELIA is an automated lending platform for women-owned and women-led innovation-driven enterprises located anywhere in Southern Ontario. Fast forward to today, with the support of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED Canada), DELIA is now available across all of Canada.

    Wakenagun Community Futures Development Corporation (Wakenagun CFDC) – Wakenagun CFDC’s Investment Fund – “Women in Business” Loan

    Wakenagun CFDC’s Investment Fund – “Women in Business” Loan provides funding for women to enter into business ownership. Funds may be used for new or existing businesses.

    Wellington Waterloo Community Futures (WWCF) – Rural Women in Business Loans

    Wellington Waterloo Community Futures provides rural women in business loans that help with startup funds or expansion plans. The maximum loan size is $250,000.00 to be used for the purchase of fixed assets, leasehold improvements, inventory, expansion, start-up or working capital or a combination of any along with some consolidation.

    Best Non-profit Subsidy for Female Entrepreneurs

    Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO) – Women in Health Initiative (WiHI): Wage Subsidies for Women in Business Leadership Roles

    Through the OBIO® WiHI program, wage subsidies of up to $50,000 CAD are available for women in leadership roles in the health science industry.

    Best Investment for Female Entrepreneurs

    Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) – Women in Technology Venture Fund

    If you’re a woman who owns or leads a Canadian tech company, then whatever you do, get in on this funding program right away.

    One of the largest venture capital funds in the world, they have $200,00 million available to invest in your business. There are 3 different ways they can invest in yours:

    • directly with your company,
    • indirectly with emerging venture funds led by at least 1 woman, and
    • as a network through multiple partners.

    And not only do they offer investment capital, they also offer mentorship, networking, and learning resources.

    Export Development Canada (EDC) – EDC Inclusive Trade Investments Program (ITIP)

    Canadian exporting businesses owned and led by people identifying as women, Indigenous, Black and other dimensions of diversity, one of the main barriers to growth is lack of equitable access to capital. EDC Inclusive Trade Investments Program (ITIP) helps address that challenge and create more opportunities for growth.

    ArchAngel Network – Phoenix Fire

    Phoenix Fire is an angel-stage investment fund that applies a systematic, disciplined approach to investing in women entrepreneurs across Canada. The fund will invest $100K to $250K in early-stage technology start-ups with high-growth potential and the ability to scale globally.

    StandUp Ventures LP – StandUp Ventures

    Looking for an investor? Does your company have at least 1 woman in a C-level position with an equal profit share?

    Then the StandUp Ventures funding program—funded by organizations such as the BDC and EDC—is for you. They’ve discovered women-led companies succeed more often and have better returns on average, so they’re always looking for new companies to invest in.

    While they invest mostly in enterprise software, digital health, and clean tech seed-stage companies based in Canada, they do also invest in other fields and sectors, so don’t hesitate to apply.

    Best In-kind Support Programs for Female Entrepreneurs

    The programs below are provided by either academia or by non-profit organizations. Besides valuable in-kind support, some of them also provide funding to Female Entrepreneurs.


    Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation and L-SPARK – Compass North

    Compass North is a five-month accelerator program for women-led startups in the greater Kingston region. It is a women’s startup accelerator that matches founders with a dedicated mentors to help them think strategically and reach their goals and objectives.

    YSpace (York University) – ELLA Ascend

    ELLA Ascend is a 5-month accelerator program designed for women entrepreneurs to scale their business at a fast-tracked pace.

    Innovation Cluster – Women Breaking Barriers

    Women Breaking Barriers is the first virtual accelerator program that promotes women pursuing innovative careers through science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and social innovation in Peterborough and the Kawarthas OR interested in relocating the business to Peterborough and the Kawarthas region.

    Innovation Guelph – Rhyze Up! Accelerator

    Rhyze Up! is a national accelerator for women-founded scale-ups across Canada who are ready to advance their businesses. Companies will receive $5,000-$10,000 in support for business scale-up services (Support includes one-on-one leadership coaching sessions).

    Venturepark Labs – Accelerator

    Since 2015, Venturepark Labs has delivered Canada’s top accelerator program for consumer products. Over four months, Venturepark Labs’ experts help their alumni scale. Entrepreneurs gain insights from industry leaders and access to Canada’s business growth ecosystem, Venturepark. The Park provides connections to investment capital and skilled brand builders.

    Entrepreneurship Programs

    Communitech – Fierce Founders Bootcamp

    Fierce Founders Bootcamp helps women and non-binary founders build the next Canadian unicorns. The bootcamp is a six-week program that supports the growth of early-stage companies by helping founders think bigger about their markets and validate their ideas.

    Invest Ottawa – SheBoot

    SheBoot is a six-week-long bootcamp that prepares women founders to pitch their business and secure investment.

    Startup Canada – Startup Women

    Startup Women helps women entrepreneurs through mentorship, events, and resources. Startup Canada stands with women-identified entrepreneurs to help support their growth, future goals, and break down the unique barriers that women are faced with when building a business.

    ventureLAB – Tech Undivided

    Tech Undivided offers a comprehensive 6-month program to challenge women-led tech companies to scale their businesses. Through the pillars of capital, talent, IP & technology, and customers, this program creates a support ecosystem of resources and networking opportunities for women founders to thrive. Tech Undivided is designed for founders building breakthrough solutions leveraging hardware and/or enterprise software technologies. It draws on the combined expertise of ventureLAB Advisors, Strategic Mentors, and exclusive partners to offer strategic and tactical support to help them refine their product-market-fit, amplify their sales, and navigate relevant sources of funding – and help hone their pitch to better prepare for customer and investor meetings.

    The Bottom Line

    Here’s the bottom line: now’s the time for women entrepreneurs to move their businesses forward with confidence. There are more funding opportunities than ever before and more women-led businesses than ever before.

    You, as a businessperson and a woman, can tremendously impact the Canadian economy and improve it more than any other demographic. It doesn’t matter who or what you are—Indigenous, LGBTQ+, old, young, or disabled—as long as you’re a woman with a great idea and the wherewithal to follow through with that great idea or you have a company you hold the reins of, you can guide your company to success with the help of these funding programs.

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