FedNor invests in women entrepreneurs across Northern Ontario


The federal government aims to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025. To support that goal, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for FedNor and Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Superior North was joined by Marcus Powlowski, Member of Parliament for Thunder Bay—Rainy River, recently announced $8,385,309 in FedNor funding for three projects with the PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise (PARO) to support women entrepreneurs across Northern Ontario.

Of the total FedNor investment, $6,261,160 will enable PARO to extend its Women’s Enterprise Centre Northern Ontario (WECNO) initiative for two three-year periods, 2019-2022 and 2022-2025. WECNO is designed to help women entrepreneurs, including Indigenous women, start and grow businesses or expand access to export markets and supports women-led start-ups and companies throughout Northern Ontario. Since 2016, this highly successful initiative has supported over 1000 women-led businesses, while helping to create or maintain more than 1600 jobs.

The remaining $2,124,149 will enable PARO to implement the Enterprising Indigenous Women (EIW) initiative, a pan-Northern project that supports Indigenous women in their efforts to develop the knowledge and skills to start and grow successful businesses or social enterprises in Northern Ontario.

“The Government of Canada is proud to support women entrepreneurs by providing resources, access to capital and skills training to support business growth and start-ups throughout Northern Ontario. This FedNor investment will help ensure women-led companies are well prepared to help drive our economy forward as we emerge from these challenging times,” said Powlowski.

PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise is one of Canada’s most successful business support and networking organizations. As a not-for-profit social enterprise, the organization works to empower women, strengthen small business, and promote community economic development across Ontario. To date, PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise has supported nearly 30,000 women, with over $4.9 million provided in grants from PARO programs, and over $10 million in total grants and loans to clients.