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Application process: WES Ecosystem Fund

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada


This call for proposals is closed - we are no longer accepting applications.

Over 50 applications were approved for funding.

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WES Ecosystem Fund

The Government of Canada is committed to advancing gender equality, women's economic empowerment, and supporting women entrepreneurs through the new Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (the Strategy), announced in Budget 2018. As part of the Strategy, the Government has made funding available over five years to ensure women across Canada have access to the business supports they need to start or grow a business.

The WES Ecosystem Fund (the Ecosystem Fund) is an $85 million investment over five years that will help close service gaps and strengthen capacity within the entrepreneurship ecosystem for women entrepreneurs. The Ecosystem Fund will do this by providing non-repayable contribution funding to approved projects led by non-profit organizations to deliver support for women entrepreneurs. All projects must address the needs of diverse groups of women.

There are two streams under the Ecosystem Fund:

  1. National/multi-regional Stream
  2. Regional Stream


Eligible applicants

Applicants may apply independently or as a partnership with other organizations to deliver project activities. Eligible applicants must be not-for-profit organizations such as:

  • Business and entrepreneur support organizations
  • Innovation hubs
  • Organizations that certify diverse suppliers in Canada
  • Indigenous organizations
  • Accelerators
  • Organizations that support social enterprises or cooperatives, and
  • Post-secondary institutions.

For partnerships, the lead applicant is responsible for completing and signing the application form, managing the project and contribution funding and reporting on results.

Ineligible applicants

  • For-profit organizations

Eligible projects

The project must address the needs of women entrepreneurs, ensuring inclusion of, or a focus on, diverse and under-represented populations. Projects should be a maximum of five years in length.

For the National/multi-regional Stream, activities must be delivered in both official languages.

For the Regional Stream, any projects involving services to members of Official Language Minority Communities must ensure that communications and services to the public will be in both English and French.

Eligible activities

Eligible activities are those that address a gap and/or build capacity in the entrepreneurship ecosystem for women, including, but not limited to:

  • Supplier diversity activities that targets women entrepreneurs
  • Initiatives to support women in traditionally underrepresented sectors
  • Networking, matchmaking, and mentorship opportunities
  • Initiatives to support the participation of diverse and underrepresented women in entrepreneurship
  • Incubator and accelerator programs
  • Efforts to scale up programs that support women entrepreneurs across regions and on a national basis, and
  • Other activities that will support the objectives of the Ecosystem Fund.

All projects must demonstrate how the proposed work will support women and how it will be inclusive of, or focus on diverse women. Applicants are strongly encouraged to promote the increased representation of women entrepreneurs in sectors where they have been traditionally underrepresented.

Eligible costs

Eligible costs include all costs necessary to carry out the project which are deemed reasonable under the Ecosystem Fund. Eligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • Cost of labour
  • Capital costs: purchase of machinery, equipment and infrastructure
  • Operating costs: management fees or working capital
  • Consultancy fees
  • Costs related to intellectual property
  • Preproduction
  • Commercialization costs
  • Subcontracting costs
  • Production and distribution of promotional materials and management tools
  • Anticipated cost of maintaining the useful life of an asset for a reasonable period
  • Production of management tools, and
  • Other costs necessary to support the purpose of the funding, as approved by the Minister.

Ineligible costs

Ineligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • The refinancing of an existing debt
  • The purchase of any assets for more than the fair market value
  • Costs of amortization
  • Land acquisition, and
  • Goodwill.

Assessment criteria and review process

Applications will be assessed on a competitive basis and funds will be awarded to submissions that best fit program needs and assessment criteria.

Review process

Step 1: Initial screening

All application packages will be screened to ensure that they are complete and meet the eligibility criteria. If an application package is incomplete or fails to meet the eligibility criteria, applicants will be notified in writing that their application will not be considered further.

Step 2: Review

Eligible application packages will be assessed against the defined assessment criteria. Please note that the assessment criteria for each section are included in the WES Ecosystem Fund Application Guide.

Step 3: Decision

Funding will be based on application packages' evaluation results, government priorities and available funding. Once a final decision is made, all applicants will be notified in writing.

How to apply

Download the WES Application Form and complete as instructed in the WES Ecosystem Fund Application Guide, attach all mandatory additional documentation and click 'Apply now' when finished to submit. Receipt of your application package will be acknowledged within two business days.

WES Application Form (ZIP, 110 Kb)

Application Intake

The deadline to submit an application is November 22, 2018 at 23:59 PST.

Notice: Canada Post Service Disruption in Effect

Canada Post Corporation and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers are now in a legal strike or lockout position. Mail delivery across Canada could be affected.

To meet the submission deadlines, it is highly recommended that your application be submitted online. However, if you are unable to do so because you live in rural or remote area with limited internet access, we will accept couriered application packages sent, no later than the deadline date, to the following address:

Women Entrepreneurship Strategy – Small Business Branch
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street, 5th Floor, West Tour, Mail Box 13
Ottawa, ON K1A 0H5

Contact information

If you require further information or clarification about the application process, please contact us:


Please be advised that the generic email account is un-secured and should not be used if you are sending sensitive or personal information.

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