New program aims to help women-led businesses in Southern Ontario
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Windsor-Essex Economic Development Corporation (WEEDC) will take charge of a new multi-million-dollar program targeting women-led businesses from Windsor to Toronto.
On Friday, the federal government’s small business minister Mary Ng announced a $4-million investment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to create the Rebuild Reopen Revive Initiative meant to help small and medium-sized women-led businesses adjust to COVID-19 health guidelines.
"Women entrepreneurs face unique and systemic challenges amidst the COVID-19 crisis," said Ng in a news release. "Our government is committed to building on the work we’ve done to break down these longstanding barriers to success as we restart and rebuild our economy."
Sabrina DeMarco, the executive director of the WEEDC’s Windsor-Essex Small Business Centre, says eligible businesses will be able to apply for up to $5,000 in non-repayable contributions immediately.
"The intention is that this is fast, quick, rapid relief funding," said DeMarco, in an interview with CTV News. "The application is now live and open on our website. As soon as the minister made the announcement today, we were sure to have everything ready to go."
The WEEDC will receive $2-million to administer the program covering the region from Windsor to the Greater Toronto Area while the Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation will receive the other half of the funding for its own catchment area.
Those funds are meant to help businesses buy personal protective equipment, support storefront reconfiguration to comply with health guidelines and to assist in the transition to online commerce.
The FedDev Ontario investment comes from the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund and will support the broader Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES).
"Really, that initiative provides support, wraparound support, mentorship and training, to help foster and nurture women entrepreneurship in our region,” said DeMarco. “This funding goes a long way to support that initiative to help them during this difficult time to give them that added boost."
According to FedDev Ontario, more than 700 women-led businesses are expected to benefit from the initiative.