Farm Credit Canada’s Women Entrepreneur Program has delivered nearly twice as much support to female agri-food entrepreneurs than expected.
During a virtual roundtable to address the challenges women agri-food entrepreneurs face, Marie-Claude Bibeau, in her capacity as the first-ever female minister of agriculture and agri-food, announced that 1,391 women across the country had received more than $994.5 million worth of loans under the program.
“This is already nearly double the $500-million amount initially announced in March of 2019 for this three-year program, demonstrating the entrepreneurial spirit of hundreds of women in Canada’s agriculture and agri-food sector,” a statement following the conference noted.
Canada is home to more than 75,000 female farm operators, or 28.7% of the total. BC is home to the largest concentration of female farm operators in Canada, at 37.5%.
The federal statement noted that “systemic issues and longstanding inequalities” in Canada were magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the funding represented Ottawa’s efforts to “provide equal opportunities for all Canadians.”
The loan program is part of the $5 billion federal Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, which is expected to help improve women’s participation in agriculture and other economic sectors nationwide.