…while women in Canada reached close to parity in their participation in the labour force, they lag significantly behind men in entrepreneurial activity.
This discrepancy is not just an equality issue—it is also an issue of economic well-being. Entrepreneurship fuels economic growth, with new and young businesses accounting for nearly all net new job creation in Canada. Increasing the number of entrepreneurs and creating conditions for them to succeed is key to Canada’s future well-being. Given the relatively low participation of women in business ownership, targeting female entrepreneurs, and tapping into this relatively underutilized resource pool has the potential to boost economic activity while women in Canada reached close to parity in their participation in the labour force, they lag significantly behind men in entrepreneurial activity. [WESK, Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada, 2018]
We realized intuitively that most of our members were women. When we did a formal audit of membership and discovered that 66% of the members were women, we realized that the time had come to understand their issues and figure out what to do to help them more effectively. You will find information on this page from various sources—we went back to the ‘literature’ and found that there was little formal research into the situation facing small scale food processors and nothing we could find that mirrored our experience with our women members. We reported what we could from our literature survey, did a survey of our own members to find out more, and called together our Steering Committee, members, and Advisors for a Consultation meeting. We approached a University Researcher with experience looking at the food system to see if some primary research could be done. Dr. Irena Knezevic from Carleton University was eager to work with us and together we created a proposal to the Social Science and Human Resource Council (SSHRC) that would bring 5 universities across the country together to study the situation in 5 provinces. This page reports on all aspects of the research we carried out and what we are continuing to review.
The result from this research is a deep concern that even though there is a need for more value-added food production from the primary producers in Canada, there is little or no recognition or support for the food business start-up. Our experience is that so many of our members’ products are exciting, innovative and on the leading edge regarding nutrition density, have created value-chains with regional farmers (thus contributing to farm sustainability), and are very innovative, yet the importance of these initiatives is ignored. We intend to make this right!