Bootstrap or Borrow?

When it comes to funding business growth, one of the most consequential decisions faced by entrepreneurs is whether to rely on their own funds or look to external funders.

Bootstrap or Borrow? looks at both the internal processes and external forces that influence a woman’s decision to pursue business funding.

It explores the nudges and mental models that lead people down certain funding pathways and the elements of sludge and bias that keep them from accessing capital.

Finally, it outlines concrete ways that funders and advisors can remove barriers and improve the lending experience for women entrepreneurs.

Bootstrap or Borrow? Article 2

Recruit and equip your sludge audit committee

Bootstrap or Borrow? Article 3

The application experience

Bootstrap or Borrow? Article 4

Reducing sludge in applications

Bootstrap or Borrow? Article 5

Your sludge audit checklist

Key terms from Bootstrap or Borrow?

Animated video series

WEOC To-Go Podcast – Q & A with financial expert Saijal Patel

About the Survey

In Spring 2022, Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada launched the Loans, Capital and Women Entrepreneurs national survey, which included a series of focus groups and one-on-one interviews. More than 1,000 women and non-binary entrepreneurs participated, representing a variety of intersectionalities. The purpose was to identify, assess, address, and ultimately change, gender bias within loan processes in Canada.

“We have consistently heard from our members and ecosystem partners that an inability to access capital is stopping women from starting and scaling their businesses. This project allowed us to hear directly from entrepreneurs about their lived experiences. Thanks to their openness and insights this report outlines key issues within the current lending system and offers ways forward that address and eliminate those issues”

Alison Kirkland, CEO, Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada

Survey Respondent:
“I think it would be good to ensure that any of the intake officers have
training on these additional barriers that women and more vulnerable
business owners go through. I would hope that might translate into something more like character-based loans and financing. If that can be established more. To bring that credibility and have someone that really understands where these applicants are coming from.”
Survey Respondent [Racialized, Newcomer]:
Pitching to investors who are 98.99% male, when you are building a business that is for women understood by women and will be used by women using technology, is like throwing yourself in the lion’s den because
it’s male dominated. It’s like, impossible. It’s impossible.”
Survey Respondent [Racialized, Person with a disability]:
I like writing, but the amount of paperwork that has to be filled out got in the way of running my business. It’s (the amount of) time for me time that I just would rather spend working on the business.”

WEOC acknowledges the financial support of Women and Gender Equality Canada