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Women in Business Guide

Table of contents

Introduction
Regulations
Financing
Taxation
Training and mentorship
Other resources

Introduction

As an entrepreneur, your ideas help shape the business landscape in Ontario. From small, independently-run businesses to high-tech corporations, women entrepreneurs are making their mark on the economy. This guide will provide you with links and resources for your business.

You can also read our Business Start-Up Guide for information on the requirements for starting a new business in Ontario.
 

If you would like to learn how the federal government promotes the participation of women in the economic, social and democratic life of Canada, contact Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).

Contact WAGE:
1-855-969-9922  
Women and Gender Equality Canada

Regulations

Regulations

Your business may need licences and permits from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.

In addition to the information you will find in this guide, you can use BizPaL to find licences and regulations that may affect your business.

Use online:
Permits and licences search

Financing

Financing

Grants, contributions, subsidies and loan guarantees are available from various government sources. Use Innovation Canada’s online search tool to look for programs and services that may apply to your business.

Search online:
Business Benefits Finder


The following organizations offer financial support programs that apply specifically to women:

Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund

If you are woman entrepreneur, you may qualify for a loan of up to $50,000 to help start or grow your business. The program aims to support start-ups, underrepresented groups and sole-proprietorships who may experience more difficulty in accessing financing.

For more information or to find your nearest service provider refer to the link below. Use the dropdown menu at the bottom of the page to find Service providers by province or territory.

Read online:
Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund

Funding for women and gender equality

If you are planning a project that will have a direct impact on women in your community, you may be eligible for funding from Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE).

Contact WAGE: 
1-855-969-9922 
Funding for women and gender equality 

PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise

If your business is in northern Ontario, you can contact the PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise for information on training programs, peer-to-peer lending and financing options that are available to women entrepreneurs.

Contact PARO: 
1-800-584-0252 
PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise

DELIA Microloans

If your for-profit business is over 50% women-owned, or you are a woman sole-proprietor in southern Ontario, you may be eligible for a microloan of $15,000 up to $50,000.

DELIA aims to support women-identified and gender non-binary entrepreneurs and prioritizes diverse, intersectional and under-served women entrepreneurs, including: Indigenous women, women in rural or remote regions, racialized women, newcomer women, LGBTQ2 and women with disabilities.  
   
Contact DELIA:
1-866-670-1191
DELIA Microloans 

Taxation

Taxation

Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.

Read online:
Taxation guide

If you sell goods and services in Ontario, you may need a business number to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Most businesses that make less than $30,000 in any 12-month period are not required to charge HST; however, you can register voluntarily and claim input tax credits. Speak with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for more information.

Contact CRA:
1-800-959-5525
Canada Revenue Agency

Training and mentorship

Skills, knowledge, and networking are keys to running a successful business. Training and mentorship programs can give you hands-on experience in the field and put you in contact with other women entrepreneurs. The following resources provide information on mentorship and training programs for women in business.

Investing in Women's Futures

Contact the Office of Women's Social and Economic Opportunity to find out about programs and centres where you can access entrepreneurial training and other community services.

Contact Office of Women's Social and Economic Opportunity: 
Programs for women’s economic empowerment and financial security

Business Women in International Trade (BWIT)

If your business exports goods, you can get information and resources on international trade from the BWIT program, which is offered through the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service.

Contact BWIT: 
613-943-4556
Business Women in International Trade

PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise

If your business is in Northern Ontario, contact the PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise for information on skills training and peer-to-peer lending programs for women entrepreneurs. 

Contact PARO: 
1-800-584-0252 
PARO Centre for Women's Enterprise

ELLA

As a woman entrepreneur with an established and profitable business, you may be able to get information and resources to expand into national or international markets. Information and resources may include: workshops, one-on-one mentoring, peer group support, access to subject matter experts in business, introductions to legal experts and a network of industry professionals. Programs welcome Southern Ontario incorporated for-profit businesses, registered non-profits or social enterprises looking to grow rapidly.

Learn more about eligibility requirements and application deadlines for the ELLA programs:

Contact ELLAwomen:
ELLAwomen@yorku.ca

Rhyze

You may be able to access business supports like mentorship, peer-to-peer networking and insights on accessing capital and marketing for your women-led, for-profit business or social enterprise. The programs offer help whether you have a service or product focus or are envisioning a local, regional or global reach. To be eligible, you should have a business located in Southern Ontario and able to commit to scheduled meetings.

Learn more about eligibility requirements and application deadlines for the Rhyze programs:

Contact Innovation Guelph:
519-265-4495

Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network (WOSEN)

If you are starting or growing a women-led or gender nonbinary-led social enterprise, you may be eligible for business support programs. 

Programs include:

  • one-to-one coaching for your business
  • a support system for entrepreneurs seeking to be investment ready
  • a free, nine-week program for those developing their business idea
  • support for entrepreneurs and change-makers facing the challenges of growing their venture

The programs aim to support women-identified and gender nonbinary entrepreneurs from under-served and under-represented communities including: Indigenous women, women in rural or remote regions, racialized women, newcomer women, LGBTQ2 and women with disabilities.

Contact WOSEN:
Women of Ontario Social Enterprise Network (WOSEN)

Other resources

Industry-specific links