CALGARY, March 12, 2019 /CNW/ - Diversity and inclusion are integral to creating an economy that works for everyone. The full and equal participation of women in Canada's agriculture and food system will ensure the sector remains an engine of economic growth, contributing to the sector's competitiveness and prosperity.
Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau today spoke at the Advancing Women in Agriculture West 2019 conference in Calgary, highlighting the Government of Canada's ongoing commitment to creating a diverse, inclusive economy and supporting women in the agriculture and agri-food sector.
The Minister also announced Farm Credit Canada's (FCC) new Women Entrepreneur Program to support women entrepreneurs involved in the agriculture and agri-food sector by providing the capital they need to grow their business, along with the meaningful skill development opportunities they are seeking. The program includes access to capital through the Women Entrepreneur Loan, enhanced learning events, partnerships with other groups, and delivery of online content to support their needs.
FCC has committed $500 million over three years for the Women Entrepreneur Loan. As part of the loan, borrowers can have a portion of their fees waived and are encouraged to reinvest these savings into both personal and professional development that best suits their individual and business needs.
FCC's Women Entrepreneur Program is part of a commitment made under the Government of Canada's Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, a $2-billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned and women-led businesses by 2025.
Today's announcement is part of Minister Bibeau's first agricultural tour, where she is meeting with farmers, processors and industry leaders.
"Our government recognizes and supports the important contributions made by women in the continued growth of the agriculture and food sector. By providing women entrepreneurs with the tools and knowledge they need to succeed as leaders in Canadian agriculture, we are supporting a competitive industry that helps grow the economy, supports our rural communities and creates good middle class jobs."
- Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food
"Women face unique barriers along the business cycle. As a result, only 16% of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada are led by women. We know that advancing women's economic empowerment across all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, is not just the right thing to do, it's good for the bottom line. That's why our government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, took real action with the Women's Entrepreneurship Strategy because when women succeed, we all succeed."
- Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion
"Based on consultations with women leading agriculture and agri-food organizations across Canada, we are taking a holistic approach to support their needs. This is a program and not just a loan product. We're combining access to capital with networking and knowledge, which is what women told us was needed to really make a difference in the industry."
- Michael Hoffort, FCC president and CEO
- In Canada, more women are farming and the roles of women on the farm are continuing to evolve. Women accounted for 28.7 per cent of all farm operators in 2016 — nearly 78,000 of 272,000 farmers in total. Women were most prevalent among farm operators between the ages of 35 and 54, representing almost a third of the group. (Source: 2016 Census of Agriculture).
- FCC has committed $500 million over three years for the Women Entrepreneur Loan. As part of the loan, borrowers can have a portion of their fees waived and are encouraged to reinvest these savings into both personal and professional development that best suits their individual and business needs.
- The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy complements Government of Canada efforts to advance gender equality through addressing pay equity, introducing more affordable childcare and putting an end to gender-based violence.
- Advancing gender equality has the potential to add $150 billion in incremental GDP to the Canadian economy by 2026. Fewer than 16 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in Canada are majority women-owned. Only 8.4 per cent of majority women-owned SMEs export, compared to 12.8 per cent of majority male-owned SMEs.
SOURCE Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
For further information: Katie Hawkins, Director of Communications, Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, 613-773-1059, [email protected]; Media Relations, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 613-773-7972, 1-866-345-7972, [email protected]; Éva Larouche, Corporate Communication, Farm Credit Canada, 1-888-780-6647, [email protected]