• Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    Her request for funding to scale up Victoria-based DeeBee’s Organics was “quashed without question.” see more

    Source: Times Colonist / Canadian Press
    Author: Armina Ligaya

    Women seeking business loans face bigger barriers, study says

    When Victoria’s Dionne Laslo-Baker sought a bank loan to expand her burgeoning organic popsicle and freezies business in 2014, she was shocked by the patronizing feedback she says she received from a male banker.

    “One of them said not only that they couldn’t fund us, but, why am I bothering to do this?” she said. “I have a very successful husband, who makes a very good salary. ... Why are you kind of disrupting the peace?”’

    She felt defeated.

    Her request for funding to scale up Victoria-based DeeBee’s Organics was “quashed without question.” It was one of the first times she realized that women entrepreneurs face bigger barriers than their male counterparts.

    And a lack of access to capital is one of the biggest challenges for women entrepreneurs, a new study suggests.

    The wage gap between men and women has been long-standing — with women on average making 74 cents for every dollar of annual salary made by men, according to the most recent Statistics Canada data — but research by PayPal Canada and consulting firm Barraza and Associates suggests that this dynamic also applies to those who own small and medium-sized businesses as well.

    Businesses owned by women generate an average of $68,000 less revenue than men who run similar businesses, representing a gap of 58 per cent, according to the online survey of 1,000 Canadian small and medium-sized businesses between Jan. 26 and Feb. 28.

    The findings suggest that the median annual revenue for businesses owned by men across six different categories of firms ranging from manufacturing to services was $118,000, but $50,000 for those owned by women. Online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.

    The gender revenue gap is slightly smaller for businesses operating online, at $55,000 or 44 per cent, compared to offline businesses that had a gap of $71,000 or 64 per cent, according to the survey.

    One barrier to growth for women-owned businesses is access to capital, the survey suggested. Roughly 53 per cent of women-owned businesses with an e-commerce component said it was “easy” for their company to get business credit to grow their business, falling short of the 67 per cent of men who reported getting loans with ease, the survey found.

    Becky Reuber, professor of strategic management at the Rotman Business School at the University of Toronto, cautions it’s difficult to compare businesses based on the gender of the owner, as there is some research that suggests that women tend to start businesses in sectors that have lower-growth rates, such as service-based businesses. For example, there are fewer women engineers and in turn fewer with the background to start high-tech businesses, which often see higher growth, she added.

    Still, when you compare the performance of similar businesses owned by men and women, recent studies have shown that there is no difference, said Reuber.

    That being said, there is a difference when it comes to seeking capital from investors, she said.

    “There is evidence that some stereotypes play up in that. And women may have more difficulty getting high value investment,” she said. That is also what Laslo-Baker found. When she wanted to raise more funds in 2014 for DeeBee’s and met with some food industry players, one of which told her they would consider investing if she got a “man in here who could be the CEO and run this company.”

    “I thought, ‘What? A man in here? I’ve already taken this product to Canada and parts of the United States. Is that nothing?’ ” Laslo-Baker said.

    Despite these challenges, DeeBee’s has continued to expand. Its frozen treats are sold at major grocery chains such as Metro and Sobeys, and in every Canadian province and 20 states in the U.S. including California and New York.

    The company has a commercial loan from Bank of Montreal, backed by Export Development Canada, and at DeeBee’s last capital raise, which closed in June 2018, the company’s valuation was $16 million, she said.

    She believes attitudes are slowly changing, with more people expressing that her background as a mother and female entrepreneur is an asset not a drawback, she said. “As more women succeed, it’s going to pave the way.”

    The federal government has made gender equality and increased workforce participation by women a priority. Among initiatives aimed at this goal in its latest budget, Ottawa has allocated $1.4 billion over three years from the Business Development Bank in new financing for female entrepreneurs and $105 million over five years to help the regional development agencies support women-led businesses.

  • Tessa Bousfield posted an article
    B.C. government announced today nearly $600,000 towards a partnership with key technology industry.. see more

    Source: Province of BC

    The B.C. government announced today nearly $600,000 towards a partnership with key technology industry partners to study the labour market needs in the tech sector.

    Led by the BC Technology Association (BCTA) and the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC), this technology Sector Labour Market Partnership project, worth nearly $600,000 to date, will help the government and project partners gain a better understanding of the current and future labour needs in this diverse and fast growing sector. As part of this project, the partners are also developing a comprehensive labour market strategy which will result in recommendations on deepening the talent pool for in-demand jobs in B.C.

    Since last October, BCTA and VEC, with support from the government through the Sector Labour Market Partnership Program, have been engaging with technology employers, educational stakeholders and the broader technology community to gain a better understanding of the labour needs in this sector. To help the industry take this important project further, the Province has recently committed additional support so they can complete a detailed labour market analysis and develop a strategy with key actions to address the sector’s labour market priorities.

    After the announcement, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour Shirley Bond, and Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services Amrik Virk, as well as project partners, met with programming students at the Lighthouse Labs Victoria campus, located in the Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC) offices within the Fort Tectoria building in Victoria.

    The project announced today is part of the government’s commitment to deepen B.C.’s technology talent pool through a variety of actions, including improving access to timely and relevant labour market information, as outlined in the #BCTECH Strategy. The 10-year strategy includes a $100-million BC Tech Fund to improve access to capital, as well as initiatives to increase talent development and market growth for tech companies to drive innovation and productivity throughout the province.

    In 2014, the B.C. government launched the Skills for Jobs Blueprint to re-engineer its education and training programs so British Columbians can get the skills they need to be first in line for jobs in the province.

    The Sector Labour Market Partnerships Program is funded through the Canada-British Columbia Labour Market Development Agreement. The program helps employers understand and respond to changing labour market demands, and ensures that training and education programs in B.C. are aligned with industry’s labour-market needs and priorities.


    Shirley Bond, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training–

    “The technology industry is an important part of our province’s economy, creating thousands of jobs and investments in B.C. To keep B.C.’s economy strong, diverse and growing, we need to ensure that technology employers have the talent they need to expand, and that British Columbians have the skills they need to work in this growing sector.”

    Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services—

    “Through the #BCTECH Strategy, we are committed to providing British Columbians with the tech skills they need to enter the marketplace and contribute to the growth of B.C.’s tech sector. Our strategy responds to industry’s needs: providing coding in K-12; expanding co-op programs; and adjusting the training and education in post-secondary institutions. Ensuring students and adults have the right skills means they can contribute through a variety of exciting fields such as creating a greener earth in clean tech or improving lives through life sciences.”

    Ian McKay, CEO, VEC –

    “Vancouver's economic growth, the fastest of any city in Canada , has been driven largely by its emergence as a global technology hub. The entrepreneurs in our city are creating businesses that attract local and global talent. The talent in our city has in turn attracted some of the most innovative companies in the world. However, the companies we speak with every day simply can't get enough of that talent to sustain their rapid growth and reach their full potential. The LMP strategy will help Vancouver and all of British Columbia overcome this challenge and reach our full potential, as a leader in today's fierce race for talent and as the global centre for technology and innovation.”

    Bill Tam, president, BC Technology  Association –

    “Talent is what fuels the B.C. technology industry. Building a solid foundation of human capital, whether home grown or globally sourced, is among our critical success factors. With growing concerns on the availability of talent, we’re pleased to be partnering with the province, the Vancouver Economic Commission and our industry colleagues on this Labour Market Partnership project.”

    Jeremy Shaki, founder, Lighthouse Labs –

    “Lighthouse Labs is committed to providing the industry specific training needed to support B.C.’s and Canada's growing tech industries. We’re proud to have graduated over 300 developers directly into B.C.’s talent pool in just over 2 years via our main Vancouver campus, as well as bring bootcamp education to the rapidly growing B.C. innovation hubs of Victoria and Kelowna. Training and fostering developer talent will continue to play a critical role in the success of our growing tech ecosystem. We're delighted to support the B.C. government’s initiative to work with industry to directly support the growth of the technology economy.”

    Ryan Stratton, founder and CEO, Craftt, Lighthouse Labs mentor-approved –

    “The craft beverage market is growing fast in B.C. Last year we created Craftt, a cloud native app designed for breweries to help manage their operations and logistics. We’re now working with 34 breweries across Canada and the U.S.

    “I joined the VIATEC Accelerate Tectoria program in 2014 and they were instrumental in helping me launch Craftt. One of our toughest challenges has been sourcing talent. Programs like Lighthouse Labs are helping to reduce this employment gap by training junior developers with practical, real world skills.

    “Like many other sectors, mentorship is a critical part of fostering talent in the technology sector. I’ve been working as a mentor for Lighthouse Labs students since they introduced the program in Victoria because it’s important to make the time and help shape future developers entering our community. It is impressive to see what these students can learn in such a short period of time.”

    Quick Facts:

    • British Columbia is a tech-driven economy. The various technology subsectors are: information and communications technology, cleantech, engineering, life sciences, and digital media.
    • The technology sector directly employs more than 86,000 people, and wages for those jobs are 60% higher than B.C.’s industrial average.
    • In 2013, the technology sector added $13.9 billion to B.C.’s GDP.
    • B.C.’s 9,000 technology companies combined generated $23.3 billion in revenue in 2013.

    Learn More:

    #BCTECH Strategy:

    Sector Labour Market Partnerships

    BC Jobs Plan:

    B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint:

    B.C. 2024 Labour Market Outlook:

  • VIATEC posted an article
    An employer-driven, cost-sharing program that helps employers invest in training see more

    Canada-B.C. Job Grant:  

    The Canada-B.C. Job Grant is an employer-driven, cost-sharing program that helps employers invest in training for their current or future employees. The Grant assists eligible employers to offset the cost of training, with the employer contributing one-third of the cost of training. 

    Canada-B.C. Job Grant Funds

    The CJG program targets training investments to following streams: 

    The Canada-B.C. Job Grant (CJG) program has allocated up to $500,000 to a CJG New Canadian Fund.  The Fund is open to applications from eligible organizations and employers to train refugees, protected persons entitled to work in Canada, and new immigrants (arrived in Canada within the last five years) for new or existing jobs.  For information, application instructions, and application forms, please check here.

    The Refugee Fund has made $1 million available to applications from industry/sector and employer associations wanting to work with employers to deliver job readiness, job match and job specific skills training to refugees arriving in B.C.  Employers must contribute one-third of the cost of job specific training, with government covering the other two-thirds.  For information, application instructions, and application forms, please check here.

    The CJG is open to applications from BC Jobs Plan Priority Sectors, with targeted funding of up to $3million. For information, application instructions and application forms, please check here.

    • On January 18, 2016, BC announced the #BCTech Strategy 2016.  $500,000 has been allocated to the CJG program to assist employers in the Technology Sector to provide training to new and existing staff.  For additional information, application instructions, and application forms, pleasecheck here.
    • On January 14, 2016, BC announced an additional $250,000 will be dedicated to supporting training of existing employees and new hires in the contract logging industry. For information, application instructions and application forms, please check here.


    The Construction Sector will remain open to applications until allocation targets have been met.  For information, application instructions, and application forms, please check here.


    All training MUST start on or before March 31, 2016.


    What is the Canada-B.C. Job Grant?

    The CJG goal is to increase participation of British Columbians in the labour force and help them to develop the skills necessary to find and keep a job. 


    The Canada-B.C. Job Grant is an employer-driven, cost-sharing program that can help employers invest in training for their current or future employees. The Grant assists eligible employers to offset the cost of training, with the employer contributing one-third of the cost of training.


    The maximum government contribution is $10,000 for each employee trained. Employers can apply directly or an Eligible Organization can act on behalf of employers.


    How can the CJG help me?

    The Canada-B.C. Job Grant will provide direct financial support to employers who wish to purchase training for their current or future employees. An employer is required to contribute at least one third of the training costs, with the remaining two thirds, up to $10,000 per participant, coming from the CJG. The employer must have a job for the participant at the end of training. Eligible training costs include: tuition fees; mandatory student fees; textbooks, software and other required materials; and examination fees.


    How do I apply?

    Employers or organizations interested in applying for a Canada-B.C. Job Grant should review the CJG Fact SheetCJG ChecklistCJG FAQ, and CJG Criteria  before submitting an application.  Further information about eligibility, application instructions and forms are found under each funding stream webpage (see above).


    Delivery Partner Program

    The B.C. government has engaged organizations to act as Delivery Partners to maximize the benefits of the Canada-B.C. Job Grant program for employers, particularly small business employers, as well as current and future employees. Information on the Delivery Partner Program can be found here