In Everywhere, Every Day Innovating – Women Entrepreneurs and Innovation, researchers Clare Beckon and Janice McDonald from Carleton University and The Beacon Agency set out to see where, how, and what women entrepreneurs were doing to innovate within their businesses. Through interviews with 146 diverse female entrepreneurs, including 23 Indigenous women, the study found that women’s innovations are often under-recognized… simply because many of their innovations fall outside the technology sector.
Additional findings show that:
- Ninety per cent of female-led businesses are in the service industries where innovation extends from developing new products and services, to engaging employees and devising new ways of marketing and selling;
- Women entrepreneurs do not generally view technology products as their end-goal, but are eager and comfortable with using technology to adapt and meet their other business objectives;
- Women entrepreneurs feel restricted by many of the available incubator and mentorship programs which focus on attracting technology companies and have age limits for participants;
- Women entrepreneurs feel there is an under-representation of fellow female mentors and potential investors, which hinders their ability to raise capital or attract the attention of policy makers for funding opportunities.
By recognizing the barriers that women face, the report highlights the importance of more robust eco-systems for female entrepreneurs, supported by governments, financial institutions, and the women entrepreneurs themselves. Key recommendations are made for everyone involved in building that framework, and include:
- The introduction of a government-created innovation framework that includes women entrepreneurs in policy design and commits equitable grant funds;
- Work by financial institutions to address unconscious bias in small business loan acceptance, track payback rates of female entrepreneurs as a proof point to their growth and continuously explore partnerships and invest in programs that support female entrepreneurs;
- Educating female entrepreneurs to ensure they are informed about options available to them, and establish relationships with banks and investors beyond when loans are needed;
- Work from policy-makers to deliver enhanced child-care and maternity benefits for women entrepreneurs who are primary caregivers;
- Addressing the lack of business training and ineligibility for financing among Indigenous women due to lack of property needed for collateral loans if living on-reserve; and
- Establishing training, mentorship programs and networking opportunities on-reserve to help support new Indigenous women entrepreneurs.
To read the full report, click here.