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More female entrepreneurs in Ontario than anywhere else in Canada: Ryerson report

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By Nikhil Sharma

More women in Ontario participate in entrepreneurship than anywhere else in Canada, but fewer women than men feel prepared to start their own businesses, according to a report released at Ryerson last week.

Research from the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Ontario Report  found 13.8 per cent of Ontarian female respondents were involved in starting a business, compared to 15 per cent Ontarian male respondents.

Ontario’s entrepreneurship-participation rate in 2015 was the highest in Canada and among 62 other economies, including the United States, Australia and Germany.

The study, conducted by Ryerson University’s Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, found 52.4 per cent of females surveyed said fear of failure kept them from starting their own businesses. Fewer males, 40.7 per cent of those surveyed, cited the same fear.

Just 41.8 per cent of female respondents said they have the knowledge and skills needed to start a business, compared to 60.9 per cent of male respondents.

Jennyfer Sanchez uses the Transmedia Zone at Ryerson as a place to work on digital and multimedia projects. Two years ago, Sanchez and her partner launched Noble Sky Interactive, a program used to deliver messages and events on various mediums with a focus on storytelling.

Her business partner is male.

Most of the time, clients will approach Sanchez’s  counterpart for technical questions and knowledge before they approach her, even when she is better qualified to answer.

“He’s regarded as someone with actual skills to pull something off,” Sanchez said.

Sanchez said it’s a lot harder for someone to be taken seriously in business if they don’t have a male partner, regardless of the male partner’s value to the business.

Statistics of the survey show women in Ontario are willing to take on the risks to be an entrepreneur. Sanchez said some women need more support from the community.

“If [women] don’t have a partner or family support, someone else who says, ‘We get it, we’ll take care of your kid. Go and make that next invention happen,’ then it’s still a tough choice to make,” she said.

Matthew Lo, a policy advisor at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, said determining the cause of the rise in entrepreneurial activity for women will be their next goal.

“Compared with a lot of other economies and even other provinces, Ontario has a very strong culture of entrepreneurship. And I think that is really a driving factor in our performance,” Lo said.

Of the 3,561 adults from Canada who participated in the 2015 GEM survey between the ages of 18 and 99-years-old, 803 were from Ontario.

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