Diverse and inclusive entrepreneurship to drive recovery

Parity and diversity: The keys to a renewed economy

We cannot escape today’s reality: as long as Québec has not achieved real entrepreneurial parity and there is no equal participation by all clienteles that are still under-represented in entrepreneurship, we cannot hope to see the emergence of a more resilient economy that is more respectful of people and the planet.

Femmessor (now Evol) and the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal teamed up to conduct an extensive study on the impact of entrepreneurial diversity on the province and Montréal, released in spring 2021.

The study found that despite greater recognition of the positive impacts of a more inclusive entrepreneurial fabric, access to financing, capital and networks remained particularly difficult for these under-represented clienteles.

We should not deprive ourselves of such wealth:

  • Although they are still under-represented, the rate of women who intend to start a business has tripled in just 10 years.
  • Immigrants and members of minority groups often go into business at a higher rate than their demographic weight.
  • Increasing the number and size of businesses owned by women and minority groups could generate positive spinoffs for Québec in terms of jobs, sustainable development and inclusion.

What are the solutions for achieving parity and diversity?

Montréal and the province, we noted the importance of:

  • Continuing to develop a culture of entrepreneurship among women and people from diverse backgrounds;
  • Improving support measures for entrepreneurship among women and people from diverse backgrounds, with training and better access to markets and networks;
  • Building on the expertise of women and people from minority groups in achieving sustainable development and inclusiveness objectives.

Access to financing: A key lever to support inclusive and impact entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs must have access to the necessary sources of financing at all stages of a company’s life cycle.

Access to financing is one of the most common obstacles an entrepreneur faces, and is often more significant for those who are under-represented. The range of financing instruments available to them must be broadened and, in particular, inclusive in order to meet their needs.

Specific support is also required to prepare these entrepreneurs and help them in their journey. Support programs must therefore review their selection criteria, such as by selecting projects anonymously, removing age limits for participants, using diversified juries, and having more parity and diversity within the financial bodies, etc.

For example, Evol’s funding program mobilizes a large funding envelope to support inclusive and impact entrepreneurship. Eligible businesses must be managed and owned (at least 25 % of shares and votes) by at least one person from a community that is under-represented in entrepreneurship, i.e. women, racialized people, immigrants, First Nations and Inuit members, LGTBQ2+ community members and people with disabilities.

Today, much work remains to be done to create an economy that reflects the different faces that make up our society and to develop Québec’s full entrepreneurial potential, but there is a real desire to see the inclusive entrepreneurial process take a real turn, especially in this context of economic recovery that is so vital to our economy.

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