Trust your instincts. Grow your networks. Be bold. Dream big. These were among the powerful messages shared at a recent virtual conference highlighting the financial challenges facing Canadian women entrepreneurs.
Hosted by the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada (WEOC) and co-sponsored by Export Development Canada (EDC), the month-long event (Feb. 1-22) included expert discussions and presentations on key issues impacting women-led companies. It was also an opportunity to network with financial advisors, marketing specialists and women business leaders across Canada about the advantages of exporting.
“There are a lot of benefits for Canadian companies to sell their products and services internationally. In fact, research shows Canadian companies that export can increase profitability by 121%, productivity by 30%, and innovation by 25%,” said Catherine Beach, EDC’s national lead for Women in Trade and a moderator at the third annual WEOC X: Exchange, Expand, Explore National Conference.
But she admits exporting also comes with myriad challenges.
“Every business on the cusp of expanding internationally—or in the thick of it—needs access to capital. We also know that doing business internationally can be risky, and non-payment is one of the top risks businesses are concerned about when selling internationally.”
For women entrepreneurs, who tend to be more risk averse than their male counterparts, even asking for financial support can be difficult, let alone pitching their business to venture capital investors.
“We’ve all heard the stats about the percentage of equity capital going to women and diverse founders. Women-owned businesses currently receive just 2.8% of venture capital (VC) funding available worldwide, and an estimated 4% of VC funding in Canada,” Beach noted of the investment inequality.
“Women are also under-represented among equity investors, representing only 15.2% of Canadian VC partners and 16.7% of Canadian angel investors.”
So, why are women business owners less likely to get a loan or equity to fund their company growth? What are the benefits to having credit insurance on your exports and how do you find the right broker for your business?
In a Feb. 17 panel discussion on financing international expansion and risk mitigation strategies for women entrepreneurs, Beach turned to three experts for answers.