WBE Canada’s commitment ensures women-owned businesses continue to grow.

While Canada is still new to diversity and inclusion efforts within supply chains, Canadian Councils are focused on driving awareness, supporting, and developing diverse businesses while at the same time guiding a growing number of corporations and government organizations through the process of developing supplier diversity programs, removing red tape in procurement, and diversifying their supply chains.

According to Statistics Canada, when COVID hit, womenowned businesses were more likely than other businesses to report a decline in revenue of 50% or more. Yet over two-thirds of majority women-owned businesses decided to not defer their payments or mortgages. Out of those who did, almost 10% were denied, which represents double of all other businesses. Over one-third of majority women-owned businesses reported that they modified their products or services to adapt to the pandemic, compared to one quarter of all businesses in Canada.

The impact of COVID on women was so much higher that the Government of Canada called the current situation a she-cession, proposing strong initiatives and financial support to create a more inclusive, sustainable, feminist and resilient economy. We are excited to see continued support of our government toward women entrepreneurs and ongoing commitment to diversifying the federal supply chain.

Like many other organizations, Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada) has faced unprecedented challenges since the beginning of the pandemic, including having to cancel all our live events and realizing the need to conceptualize and develop new forms of support for our community. We were able to pivot quickly and successfully implemented some key initiatives like WBE Canada Toolbox (training resource center), Supplier Diversity Accelerator (customized training and consulting support for organizations launching their supplier diversity programs), Government Membership Pilot and Supplier Diversity Data Services (reporting services). We also experienced over 20% growth in the number of new WBE certifications and over 10% growth in the number of organizations ready to support women entrepreneurs through their procurement opportunities.

Corporations and government entities know that making inclusive supply chains a priority is necessary for a variety of reasons ranging from social responsibility to the bottom line. Supplier diversity encourages the growth of diverse businesses, which in turn impacts the communities where those businesses are located through job creation, increased wages, and tax revenue. Providing the opportunities for Canadian womenowned businesses through supplier diversity programs that ultimately grow the diversity of their supply chains is key to ensuring Canada’s economic recovery.

WBE Canada also recently released a report in partnership with the University of Manitoba, based on research conducted in 2020, which revealed the motivators and perceived benefits of certification. Not surprisingly, the top three rated motivators were:

(1) to increase sales and profits; (2) to gain access to large supply chains; and (3) to meet requirements of corporate or government buyers. All three are related to business development.

This spring, we also conducted additional research to identify gaps within supply chains and the biggest challenges within the women entrepreneurial community. Findings from both studies are utilized to inform strategic initiatives to improve the development and success of Canadian WBEs in domestic and international markets.

We are excited about the increased numbers of corporate and government training and mentorship programs as our corporate member organizations like Accenture, Bank of Montreal (BMO), Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), The Government of Canada and others continue investing their support and resources to where they will make the biggest impact in the long-term development of WBE suppliers to improve competitiveness of our WBE community.

Recognizing that D&I will play an important role in global economic recovery is vital to our national growth. WBE Canada’s commitment is to ensure that women-owned businesses, who have already proven to be innovative, resourceful, and sustainable during the pandemic, continue to grow and are ready and capable to answer the opportunities that corporations and governments will provide going forward as they realize the socioeconomic values of growing and developing their inclusive procurement practices.

About WBE Canada

Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada) is a Canadian non-profit organization working closely with corporations and governments advocating for inclusion of Canadian Women Business Enterprises (WBEs) in supply chains across Canada and abroad. To ensure diversity in supply chains, WBE Canada works closely with its corporate and government members to provide necessary training and support to help establish and develop supplier diversity initiatives. Explore our corporate/government membership here.

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