WIN-VC Canada launches to advance impact venture capital for women and non-binary entrepreneurs
$3.4 million investment from Government of Canada aimed to advance equity, gender lens investing, and women-led businesses
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO, ONTARIO, September 21, 2023 — A group of leading organizations across Canada have officially launched WIN-VC Canada (Women and Nonbinary Impact Network for Venture Capital), an initiative that aims to empower women and non-binary entrepreneurs and integrate a gender lens into the strategies of private investors.
Jointly led by Social Venture Connexion (SVX) and several impact-aligned organizations. SVX received funding for the project through the Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative, one of the pillars of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), a Government of Canada initiative that encompasses nearly $7 billion in investments and commitments that are helping thousands of women entrepreneurs start up, scale up, and expand into new markets.
To fuel this vision of a more inclusive venture capital environment for Canadian women and non-binary individuals, the following impact-aligned organizations joined together to establish WIN-VC Canada: Canadian Women’s Foundation, Esplanade Quebec, New Power Labs, Pillar Nonprofit Network, Pond Deshpande Centre, Spring Activator, SVX, and WeBC. These organizations possess extensive experience, expertise, and resources to deliver top-tier programs for enterprises and investors, enhance sector knowledge and drive systemic change, and mobilize capital to advance gender equality and women’s economic empowerment.
WIN-VC’s mission will serve women and non-binary entrepreneurs, including Indigenous, rural, BIPOC, newcomer, LGBTQ2+, Two-Spirit, and women with disabilities. The Network will also support investors of all genders interested in gender-lens investing, systems change, and inclusivity, with a focus on sectors including food, agriculture, real estate, cleantech, and healthcare.
The Network will offer multi-regional and regional entrepreneur accelerator programs, alongside regional and multi-regional investor education programs. WIN-VC’s programming will be intentionally designed to prioritize equity-deserving groups and will provide support to a range of entities in accessing capital. The Network will also provide education services to empower investors, particularly those in the angel and venture capital realms, with practical knowledge pertaining to equity, diversity, and inclusion. Additionally, the Network’s entrepreneur programming will aim to boost investment-readiness amongst women and non-binary entrepreneurs through one-on-one advisory support, coaching, and peer-to-peer learning. WIN-VC will dedicate national research efforts to gender-lens investing and Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) to inform the Network’s knowledge products and professional development opportunities, ensuring the necessary information to promote diversity within entrepreneurial and investment ecosystems.
The project’s outcome is poised to create lasting positive system change including enhanced access to capital for women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses, enabling them to establish, sustain, or expand their enterprises while gaining awareness of available support resources. Moreover, women entrepreneurs will enhance their investment readiness, bolstering their ability to tap into diverse capital sources through increased knowledge of capital sources and investment readiness capacity.
The skills and knowledge acquired through WIN-VC’s programs, coupled with improved access to capital, will create sustainability and increased participation in entrepreneurship and the Canadian economy, generating greater participation of women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses in the Canadian entrepreneurial landscape.
To mark its launch, WIN-VC kicked off with an event showcasing the Network’s upcoming programming as well as a mixed-panel discussion highlighting insights from entrepreneurs and gender-lens investors.
To learn more about WIN-VC Canada, visit https://win-vc-canada.svx.ca/.
“Through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), we are helping women from coast to coast to coast build and grow inclusive businesses that are as diverse as Canada is. I am happy to see the launch of the Women and Nonbinary Impact for Venture Capital initiative, and even prouder that our Government is supporting this important program through funding from the WES. This is great news that will help women and non-binary entrepreneurs access venture capital funding and drive their economic empowerment across the country.” — Rechie Valdez, Minister of Small Business, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
“WIN-VC Canada represents a crucial initiative that will empower women and non-binary entrepreneurs and advance a gender lens for Canadian investors. The Network embodies a vision of inclusive venture capital, driven by impactful partner organizations. With the Government of Canada’s $3.4 million investment, we will advance equity and growth for Canada’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.” — Adam Spence, CEO, SVX
“WeBC is thrilled to contribute to the WIN-VC Canada initiative to transform the world of venture capital. WeBC is committed to empowering women entrepreneurs in BC and, since 1995, we have provided over $35M in business loans to women-owned businesses in our province. Now, we are delighted to add venture capital programming as a support option for women who are considering equity financing as part of their funding puzzle. This impactful program for women and non-binary entrepreneurs will help them access the resources and support they need to thrive in the world of venture capital and increase the amount of funding that is invested in diverse businesses.” — Shauna Harper, CEO, WeBC
“This initiative is perfectly aligned with Spring’s mission to build a more inclusive impact investment ecosystem in Canada, and doing so in collaboration with great partners. We’re looking forward to accelerating the pace and scale at which women led businesses access growth capital, from a more diverse investor community across the country.” — Caroline von Hirschberg, Co-CEO, Spring
“PDC is proud to be the Atlantic partner of the WIN-VC initiative. By supporting women and non-binary entrepreneurs to access capital, we are contributing to shifting an unequal economic system. We look forward to working with investors to build a more inclusive and equitable capital landscape in our region. — Katie Davey, Executive Director, Pond-Deshpande Centre
“I’m excited to be supporting the kick-off of WIN-VC at the upcoming launch event. There is plenty of evidence that investing in diversity pays dividends. The perspectives, skills, and expertise of women and gender non-binary people are valuable. But change requires collective action and I hope these programs will bring immense value to the VC ecosystem.” — Bonnie Foley-Wong, Pique Ventures
“The launch of WIN-VC is exciting for women and nonbinary entrepreneurs embarking on or taking on the next step in becoming investment ready. These types of programming help women entrepreneurs navigate systems that are often not built for us, as well as help build strong connections and foundations to strengthen our businesses and communities.” — Carmina Young, Founder & CEO, Carmina de Young Fashion Design Inc.
- The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) is a nearly $7 billion investment that includes the following 4 initiatives:
- The Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, which is enabling existing women-focused loan programs to provide additional affordable microloans to women entrepreneurs;
- The Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative, which seeks to broaden access to funding and build a more inclusive venture capital environment for Canadian women;
- The WES Ecosystem Fund, which is helping remove barriers to the support networks and deliver the resources that women entrepreneurs need to start up, scale up and access new markets; and
- The Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which has brought together 10 regional hubs, over 300 organizations and thousands of women entrepreneurs to create a more inclusive and supportive environment to grow women’s entrepreneurship in Canada.
- According to The51 and Logic, a venture capital fund focused on women founders, only 10 per cent of VC deals in Canada have gone to women-led start-ups since 2014.
- Last year, U.S. startups with all-women teams received 1.9% (or around $4.5 billion) out of around the $238.3 billion in venture capital allocated, according to the latest PitchBook data. That percentage is a notable drop from the 2.4% all-women teams raised in 2021.
- Racialized women in particular experience barriers in access to capital; for example, in a survey of 700 Black women entrepreneurs by the Black Business and Professional Association, 78.5% agreed that access to financing is an obstacle.
- A Deloitte study examining diversity and inclusion in the venture capitalist industry reveals that only 14 percent of investment professionals in venture capital in the U.S are women. A similar Canadian report from 2019 that examined 55 funds representing $6.1 billion across Canada found that only 15.2% of partners at VC firms were women.
- SVX in collaboration with its partners forming WIN-VC Canada was awarded $3.4 million from the Government of Canada to advance its mission.
- Eight organizations across Canada have come together to launch this initiative, including: Canadian Women’s Foundation, Esplanade Quebec, New Power Labs, Pillar Nonprofit Network, Pond Deshpande Centre, Spring Activator, SVX, and WeBC.
- WIN-VC Canada seeks to support over 140 entrepreneurs and 140 investors by 2025.
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WIN-VC Canada (Women and Non-binary Impact Network for Venture Capital) is a collaborative of organizations working to provide services, programming, events, and dedicated resources to women and non-binary entrepreneurs and gender lens investors across Canada who strive to generate positive social or environmental change through their ventures and investments. We are comprised of partners including: SVX, Pillar Nonprofit Network, Spring Activator, Esplanade, WeBC, New Power Labs, Pond Deshpande Centre, and Canadian Women’s Foundation.
WIN-VC Canada’s programming will span between 2023–25, and includes regional and multi-regional investor education and entrepreneur accelerator programs. Regional programming for both investors and entrepreneurs will span from Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, Yukon, and British Columbia. Our mandate also includes generating knowledge and research assets for the ecosystem in order to drive greater awareness of barriers and solutions to greater gender inclusion in VC and entrepreneurship.
Canadian Women’s Foundation
The Canadian Women’s Foundation is Canada’s public foundation for gender justice and equality. This mission is advanced by fostering support for grassroots feminist action, collaborating with communities and organizations to enhance conditions, and cultivating diverse leadership and knowledge for sustainable change.
Since 1991, the foundation’s generous donors and supporters have contributed more than $185 million to fund over 3,000 life-transforming programs throughout Canada.
Esplanade supports entrepreneurs who have decided to place social or environmental impact at the heart of their business model. Esplanade aims to accelerate the socio-ecological transition through entrepreneurship. Through programs and coaching offering, Esplanade is entirely dedicated to sustaining and accelerating the deployment and scaling of their projects.
New Power Labs
New Power Labs is a collaborative platform to inform, co-create, and mobilize new approaches and practices to flow capital more equitably.
New Power Labs aggregates and synthesizes knowledge and resources, leading research to uncover and share actionable tools and best practices that transform how equity, diversity, and inclusion are applied by practitioners. They work in partnership across the capital spectrum, from philanthropy to impact investing, venture capital/private equity, and bank financing.
Pillar Nonprofit Network
Pillar Nonprofit Network strengthens individuals, organizations and enterprises invested in positive community impact. Pillar Nonprofit Network supports nonprofits, social enterprises and social innovators by sharing resources, exchanging knowledge and creating meaningful connections across the three pillars of nonprofit, business and government.
Pond Deshpande Centre
The Pond-Deshpande Centre supports social entrepreneurship and innovation in New Brunswick and beyond. We believe that by combining innovative ideas with deep, relevant, contextual knowledge, citizens will be able to develop sustainable solutions to complex social, environmental, and economic challenges while creating high-impact ventures that “do well & do good” in our region and the world.
Spring is a global community of innovators and investors, connected to create a sustainable, healthy and equitable world.
Spring designs and delivers programs and experiences to build an inclusive community of investors and support a diverse range of founders to scale their impactful solutions.
SVX is a nonprofit, diversified financial services firm driving impact for investors, organizations, funds, and enterprises. SVX provides knowledge and insights, design strategies and products, manage funds, operate a platform for raising impact capital and making impact investments, and support systems change initiatives. SVX works across sectors that deliver meaningful impact: climate, food, equity, housing, and community real estate, helping investors find and make impact investments and issuers raise impact capital.
WeBC is a not-for-profit organization that supports women business owners in all regions of British Columbia. Since 1995, they have provided thousands of entrepreneurs with business loans and expertise, training, resources, and peer network support to help women-owned small businesses grow and thrive. WeBC works to advance the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Canada through national partnerships that allow women in BC to access high-quality programming while increasing the economic impact of women entrepreneurs across the country.