TORONTO – October 22, 2019 – Hundreds of women entrepreneurs gathered at the first Visa Canada She’s Next, Empowered by Visa workshop in Toronto today, to learn ways to fund, run and grow their business. Alongside the event, Visa unveiled research that showcases that while Canadian women are highly motivated and engaged in entrepreneurship, the percentage of women-owned small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) remain low. Two factors: difficulty to obtain funding and building an online presence, may be contributing to this gap.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and running a business takes time, investment and great resilience,” said Stacey Madge, country manager and president, Visa Canada. “Women entrepreneurs face a myriad of challenges on the road to success and are seeking resources and connections to help them grow. By bringing She’s Next to Canada, Visa is addressing that need, while accelerating small businesses and demonstrating innovative ways entrepreneurs can learn and scale through our network and partners.”
The global growth rate of women entrepreneurs has increased more rapidly than that of men, with more than 163 million women starting a business since 20141. In Canada, women are highly engaged in entrepreneurship, contributing $148 billion annually to the country’s economy2. Canadian women are also global leaders when it comes to participating in entrepreneurship, ahead of countries including the U.S., U.K. and Australia.3
However, there is a notable gender gap as only 15.7% of all SMBs in Canada are owned by women, a number which has not changed significantly in more than a decade4. Visa’s research uncovered some insights that may shed light on why this number has remained stagnant5:
- Money matters: 73% of women in Canada said they self-funded their business, whilst only 14% of women said they secured a business loan. 37% of women business owners cited that they found it difficult to obtain funding.
- Digital first: 33% of women are interested in learning how to use social media to promote and grow their businesses and 30% have a similar interest in digital marketing. But overall, nearly 22% of women find it challenging to develop an online presence.
With changing consumer behaviour, a big revenue opportunity for Canadian SMBs lie in the digital world, making the fact that women are struggling to find an online presence a factor in their success. In fact, Canada has one of the highest growth rates of ecommerce and mobile payments in the developed world, growing at nearly eighteen times the rate of face-to-face transactions6. According to Visa research7:
- Consumer expectations are changing: 90% of consumers say they are motivated to shop at a business if they have an easy-to-use website.
- An online presence is a must: Half of consumers often search online (46%) and/or check the business website (47%) before visiting a new business.
But there is a wide gap between consumer needs and what Canadian SMBs are providing. Currently, only 32% of SMBs sell their products and services online, with minimal revenue coming from ecommerce sales (12%). Addressing this gap is important for SMBs – particularly those owned by women – to grow, differentiate and stay competitive.
She’s Next, Empowered by Visa
Leveraging its brand and network, Visa is focused on providing entrepreneurs with tools to build their businesses, ultimately creating a ripple effect throughout their communities. Visa launched She’s Next, Empowered by Visa in January 2019, to connect like-minded women founders with industry experts for education, inspiration and networking opportunities that deliver immediate impact for their business. Since its launch, workshops have been held in New York, Atlanta, Washington D.C., and at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town, South Africa.
Today’s She’s Next, Empowered by Visa Toronto event featured a keynote from fashion designer and Female Founder Collective founder Rebecca Minkoff, and a town hall with representatives from Authorize.net, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Freshbooks, Google, graphic designer Linda Carte, Métier Creative, The Scotiabank Women Initiative™ and Square. Attendees received a toolkit with tips on how to run and improve their businesses and key information on Visa’s full suite of payment services designed to assist with business needs.
For more information on She’s Next, Empowered by Visa and available resources, visit: visa.ca/shesnext.
To read more about Visa Canada’s SMB focused research that provides a look at the state of Canada’s SMBs in an increasingly digital world, and offers actionable tips to help SMBs capture revenue opportunities and move to more technology-focused processes in order to grow their business please click here.