SheBoot co-founder welcomes infusion of new funding for women-led startups in Ottawa

The co-founder of SheBoot and chair of the Capital Angel Network says she’d love to see the next Shopify be a woman-led company.

That aspiration got a boost Wednesday with the announcement by the federal government of eight projects that will receive funding under round one of the $25-million WES Ecosystem Fund. 

The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) was one of the eight recipients. It will receive funding for a project that will create an online educational platform that allows women and diverse women entrepreneurs to create a custom learning journey; a streamlined due diligence package to make capital raising more efficient and effective for women and diverse women entrepreneurs; and a six-month online mentorship program.

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Capital Angel Network is partnering with NACO to roll out the Ottawa program in collaboration with SheBoot. SheBoot, a women-led bootcamp, was founded by Invest Ottawa and the Capital Angel Network (CAN).

“We need a lot more women in the angels to get them through the startup and then a lot more women in the venture capital stage,” said SheBoot co-founder and CAN chair Jennifer Francis. “The funding through this initiative just lets us get at so many more founders and funders … and, as we hook into national initiatives, provide a pipeline for women across the country.”

Women investors are more likely to invest in women founders, Francis said OBJ, while “bringing more women to the table” has lasting impacts.

“We’re driving our innovation ecosystem with half our population. Imagine if we had the whole population engaged,” Francis said. “We’re leaving money on the table because our women entrepreneurs are bootstrapping and growing more slowly.

“As women grow, their companies hire men, too. They contribute to (gross domestic product) and we get more seed-level women executives in large companies because we’re allowing women-led companies to grow from small to large.

“I’d love to see the next Shopify be a woman-led company,” Francis added. “That’s what it means. It’s getting more women through that pipeline into the scale-up.”

The nationwide initiative led by NACO will also help women entrepreneurs expand their networks, Francis said. 

The $25-million WES Ecosystem Fund is part of the federal government’s $7-billion Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). Other aspects of the strategy include a $40-million round two of the WES Ecosystem Fund and a $15-million Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative.

Diverse women entrepreneurs and women-led companies in Prescott-Russell, Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry, Peterborough/Kawarthas and Bruce/Grey/Middlesex also received support Wednesday from the federal government with the announcement of more than $1.7 million for the PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise (PARO) to deliver the Women’s Enterprise Centre Southern and Eastern (WECSE) Ontario initiative. 

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