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Minister Valdez announces launch of Maïa Inclusive Growth Project to support hundreds of women entrepreneurs across Canada

Press Release

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

March 26, 2024

A more inclusive economy is a stronger economy. That’s why the Government of Canada is dedicated to taking concrete action to support women entrepreneurs from coast to coast to coast, which will help build an economy that works for all Canadians.

Today, the Honourable Rechie Valdez, Minister of Small Business, announced the launch of the Maïa Inclusive Growth Project along with Ruth Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Réseau des Femmes d’affaires du Québec (RFAQ).

This project was made possible by $3.7 million in funding through the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy Ecosystem Fund. It is being delivered by the RFAQ with EY, the Business Development Bank of Canada, Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada and several other organizations dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs across Canada.

The Maïa project will focus on diversifying the supply chain to help women entrepreneurs across Canada secure contracts with major buyers. To accomplish this, the RFAQ will educate large corporations on the benefits of diversifying their supply chains, and it will train and support women entrepreneurs on how to access these supply chains.

Support for women entrepreneurs will include:

  • raising awareness among 5000 women entrepreneurs across Canada about the importance of accessing new markets;
  • training and supporting 750 women entrepreneurs, including 200 from diverse backgrounds, to successfully integrate into the supply chains of large corporations; and
  • facilitating the certification of women-owned businesses by working with organizations such as the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council and the Inclusive Workplace and Supply Council of Canada.

This initiative is part of the historic investments the government has made since 2015 to support women, including legislating pay equity, enhancing the Canada Child Benefit, providing special funding to support women entrepreneurs during the pandemic, establishing agreements across the country for provinces and territories to provide $10-a-day child care, committing over $530 million for the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, and introducing national pharmacare legislation that will offer universal access to free contraceptives.

“The positive impacts of the Maïa Inclusive Growth project are going to be felt nationwide by helping get women entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds on the radar of big business. Partners like the Réseau des Femmes d’affaires du Québec are helping us increase the immense contributions women make to our economy and reduce the challenges they still face. Supporting women is more than the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do for our economy, and I am proud of our government’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy for making these critical investments.”
– The Honourable Rechie Valdez, Minister of Small Business
“We are very proud of this project, which brings together economic forces from across the country to facilitate women-owned businesses’ inclusion in big business supply chains. It’s a program that will not only accelerate the growth and enhancement of entrepreneurs’ skills but also promote innovation and competitiveness among big businesses. Over time, we will also have helped make our society and economy fairer and more inclusive. In a nutshell, everybody wins!”
– Ruth Vachon, President and Director General, Réseau des Femmes d’affaires du Québec
Quick facts

  • The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) is a nearly $7 billion investment that includes:
    • the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, which funds partner organizations to deliver loans of up to $50,000 to women business owners and entrepreneurs;
    • the Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative, which seeks to build a more inclusive venture capital environment for Canadian women;
    • the WES Ecosystem Fund, which is helping strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem and deliver the resources that women entrepreneurs need to start or grow a business; and
    • the Women Entrepreneruship Knowledge Hub, which serves as a one-stop source of knowledge, data and best practices for women entrepreneurship.
  • The government is also investing in removing systemic barriers faced by diverse and intersectional women entrepreneurs through programs like the Black Entrepreneurship Program and the 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Program.

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Nadine Ramadan
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Small Business

Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada


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