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FedDev Ontario supports women-led businesses to rebuild, reopen and revive in southern Ontario

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News release

Government of Canada invests $4 million to support over 700 women-led businesses across southern Ontario

July 17 2020 – Cobourg, Ontario

Women-led businesses often face unique challenges, which have been amplified by the impacts of COVID-19 on our economy. As the economy reopens, these businesses need support to adapt their operations and position themselves for a successful recovery.

Today, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, visited Venture13 in Cobourg, home of the Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC). There, she announced a $4-million FedDev Ontario investment in support of women entrepreneurs across southern Ontario, on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario.

With this investment through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), the Northumberland CFDC and WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation, in collaboration with regional partners, will deliver the Rebuild Reopen Revive Initiative to support women-led small- and medium-sized enterprises in rural and urban communities across southern Ontario. Both organizations will receive $2 million to provide non-repayable contributions of up to $5,000 to help eligible women-led businesses with key re-opening expenditures, including:

  • Acquisition of reusable personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • Reconfiguration of workspaces to accommodate social distancing impacts; and
  • Enhancing online capacity to improve accessibility and client service.

Over 700 women-led businesses will be supported through this initiative. Interested SMEs can visit Northumberland CFDC (eastern Ontario) or WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation (southwestern Ontario) for more details or to apply.

While at Venture13, Minister Ng saw firsthand the entrepreneurship and innovation taking place at this thriving community hub, made possible with a $1.43 million FedDev Ontario investment in the Northumberland CFDC through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) Ecosystem Fund in 2019. With this support, the Northumberland CFDC is working to improve access to capital for underrepresented women-led businesses through the development of an automated financial lending platform with an algorithm that removes gender bias. As part of a holistic approach, successful applicants are enrolled automatically into a concurrent program offering advisory and support services, networking, and access to office space through Venture13. The CFDC is supporting the growth of 30 women-led businesses through this initiative.

Support for women-led businesses in Peterborough

Minister Ng was later joined by the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, at the Imprinted Apparel Store in Peterborough, where the ministers highlighted an additional $380,000 in support through the Women Entrepreneurship Fund (WEF) to local women-led businesses. Funding recipients include:

  • Imprinted Apparel Store – $100,000 for this producer of custom apparel and promotional products to expand e-commerce opportunities and purchase equipment to improve operations.
  • Unlock Math Inc. – $100,000 for this online digital math course provider to implement an online platform.
  • Walton Wood Farm Corp. – $100,000 for this maker of sustainable bath and body products to upgrade the company’s planning systems and launch a new natural pet care product line.
  • Mallory Charmaine Graham (o/a Tribal Trade Co.) – $80,000 for this retailer that offers products and gifts from all nations of Turtle Island to develop and implement a digital marketing plan, undertake professional development, and hire advisory services.


“Women entrepreneurs face unique and systemic challenges amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Our government is committed to building on the work we’ve done to break down these longstanding barriers to success as we restart and rebuild our economy. The investments made today through FedDev Ontario will support women-led businesses with critical costs as they work to re-open their businesses.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade

“With reduced revenues and financial hardships of COVID-19, women-led businesses need support more than ever, as they face new challenges and expenses associated with reopening their businesses and preparing for recovery. The investments of over $4 million today will help to relieve some of the pressure as women-led businesses reopen and position themselves for a successful and stable future. We are here to support women entrepreneurs and to help these businesses come back stronger than ever.”
– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“The Government of Canada is demonstrating its commitment to women-led SMEs today through significant investments delivered by FedDev Ontario. We value the incredible contributions women entrepreneurs make to our society and economy, and we are proud to support them as they work to strengthen their businesses and re-build our economy during this unprecedented time.”
– The Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development

“We are very pleased to be working with multiple ecosystem partners across Eastern Ontario to make sure women-led businesses are fully empowered in rebuilding, reopening and reviving. These pivotal initiatives, supported by FedDev Ontario and the Government of Canada, are perfectly timed to remove barriers and add value.”
– Wendy Curtis, Executive Director, Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation

“The WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation recognizes the challenges that women-led businesses are facing amidst the COVID-19 crisis. We are excited about the opportunity to work with our community partners to deliver the Rebuild Reopen Revive Initiative across southwestern Ontario and help women-led SMEs at this critical time.”
– Stephen MacKenzie, President and CEO, WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation

Quick facts

  • Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (CFDC) provides financing and strategy support for entrepreneurs. Delivering an array of entrepreneurial development and finance programs funded by FedDev Ontario, Northumberland CFDC also manages an investment portfolio that drives business start-up and expansion.
  • The WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation is a not-for-profit organization with a focus to develop and execute strategies to retain, expand, attract and help new businesses start up in the Windsor-Essex region.
  • Venture13 brings together early-stage entrepreneurs with innovation partners to connect, empower and accelerate new ventures. In 2017, the Town of Cobourg, in partnership with Northumberland CFDC and with the support of FedDev Ontario, transformed a municipal building into Venture13, a thriving hub of opportunity for entrepreneurship and innovation.
  • The national $962-million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), is delivered through Canada’s regional development agencies (RDAs) and supports SMEs across Canada that have been unable to access existing relief measures. In southern Ontario, FedDev Ontario is delivering $213 million to provide financial relief and help businesses recover.
  • Since November 2015, FedDev Ontario has invested over $182 million in 181 projects in support of women entrepreneurship.
  • Through the Women Entrepreneurship Fund, the Government of Canada has invested a total of $30 million to more than 300 women-owned and led businesses across Canada to grow and reach new markets. In addition, the Government of Canada allocated $85 million to the WES Ecosystem Fund to strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem and close gaps in service for women entrepreneurs. Over 50 projects were funded through this initiative.

Associated links


Ryan Nearing
Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade

Alexander Cohen
Press Secretary, Office of the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages

Media Relations
Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

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