A new report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), a research report sponsored by Scotiabank, examines the barriers and challenges entrepreneurial women face in business today.

Entitled Empowering Women in Business: Insights and Recommendations, the report finds that 51 per cent of female business owners surveyed reported facing challenges when trying to access financing for their business. “In addition, 22 per cent of financing applications from women-only owned businesses were rejected outright, compared to the average of 15 per cent for all businesses,” they write. “Financial institutions should conduct thorough evaluations of loan approval processes to guarantee equitable treatment of all entrepreneurs, irrespective of gender.” 

They add that when it comes to finding support programs, 45 per cent of women said they had difficulty finding programs, and 38 per cent said they had difficulty qualifying. This is compared to 34 per cent and 30 per cent of men, respectively, who said the same. 

“While there are universal challenges that all entrepreneurs face, there are also unique experiences that make it harder for women to succeed and grow their businesses,” says CFIB economist, Laure-Anna Bomal. “Financial institutions and governments should better promote their programs and make sure they’re easily accessible, particularly for those women entrepreneurs who lack financial support.” 

Of note for financial advisors, the CFIB points out that a significant proportion of women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises rely on personal financing to initiate their ventures.

The report also looks at motivations for becoming a business owner, perceived measures of success, levels of risk aversion and other barriers. Notably, just 52 per cent say they have applied financial knowledge in their businesses frequently, despite 72 per cent saying this is important to running a successful business.