Overcoming Business Barriers Facing Women

Over the years since the inception of the SSFPA in 2002 it has been clear that the majority of our members are women. It has also been clear that women face more problems financing their businesses. Without adequate financing, their businesses and their personal financial security is in jeopardy.
In 2018 an opportunity to delve into all aspects of these problems came up. The Status of Women Canada (now Women and Gender Equality Canada) asked for proposals of how to improve women’s economic security. A proposal from the SSFPA was submitted and approved for 3 years’ funding. This website will contain all the results of the work done to uncover the fundamental problems as well as to show how we are working towards mitigating them.
Throughout the website, when you see ‘we’ that means the women involved in driving this project forward—the Project Managers, the Steering Committee and those on the Advisors Panel. When we speak to ‘you’, we mean any woman small scale food processor interested in more fully understanding the roots of her own challenges in the business. (We do however, welcome anyone (men included) to this site, because the information can be seen to be of value to anyone pursuing a small scale food business!)

We found that issues women face financing their food businesses fall into two main categories:
> Women themselves face challenges in confidence and lack experience with financing
> There are barriers facing all small scale food processors that women experience more deeply

Meet some women food entrepreneurs!
In the spring of 2019, six case study videos were commissioned as part of this project so that the kinds of issues facing women could not only be told in documents but also through first-person stories. The purpose was to inform our supporters and financing advisors about the issues they were dealing with from the women processors’ points of view. These case studies are about a snap-shot of a food processing business owned and operated by women and are valid for that purpose. Click here to listen to their stories.

This site includes information about how we conducted the project, what we learned and what we are doing about the issues. What appeared as a fairly straightforward project has turned into a substantially more involved project as many of the barriers are rooted in policy and in the current nature of the food system. We also found that other organizations across Canada are attempting to deal with the same issues—new partnerships and new, broad-based plans are emerging as a result.

To inspire each other, we are including many stories about women ssfp’s and their ideas and concerns in stories and videos. These stories show the passion and resilience in the face of challenges that our members display. We hope you enjoy them and are encouraged to continue your good work as an ssfp!