Celebrating Financial Inclusion for Women-led Businesses
As the world celebrates International Women's Day, it's important to take a moment to reflect on the progress made toward financial inclusion for women-owned and women-led businesses. Despite the undeniable talent, drive, and innovation that women bring to the table, they have traditionally faced significant barriers to accessing the funding they need to grow and succeed in business.
Fortunately, the Government of Canada, through the Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation (NCFDC), in partnership with Corl and Railz, has been working tirelessly to address this issue and level the playing field for women entrepreneurs. And since 2018, the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) has been at the forefront of efforts to drive financial inclusion for women-led businesses.
One of the most impactful initiatives under the WES has been the DELIA Fund, a successful pilot project originally launched in 2019 that earned$5M in follow-on investment. Powered by Corl's loan origination and decisioning software, and the cutting-edge technology of Railz, DELIA has been instrumental in approving funding for over 150 women-led small businesses in Canada to date.
Through the power of technology, the application process for DELIA loans has been significantly streamlined, reducing wait times from 1-2 weeks to as little as 10 minutes. Thanks to Railz's credit risk score, interest rates, and risk levels are automatically calculated, making the process more efficient and accurate. Corl's technology also ensures that the loans originated with low losses and default risk, boasting a delinquency rate well below the industry average.
Through DELIA, women-led small businesses have access to loans ranging from $15k-$50k, with a focus on empowering women entrepreneurs in underrepresented and underserved communities. These loans provide the capital needed to invest in business infrastructure, purchase new equipment, hire more staff, and expand to new markets. The impact of these loans goes far beyond the individual businesses that receive them, as they help to create new jobs, stimulate inclusive and sustainable economic growth, and drive positive social change.
Today, we celebrate the success of the DELIA Fund and the financial inclusion it provides for women-led businesses in Canada. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the NCFDC, Corl, Railz, and the Government of Canada, women entrepreneurs have expanded and dedicated options for access to capital to bring their innovative ideas to life, create jobs, and drive economic growth. This International Women's Day, we encourage everyone to celebrate the incredible achievements of women-led businesses and work towards a more inclusive and equitable future.
Shawna Stewart is the VP of People Operations at Railz. Shawna is a people-focused leader who uses her passion, grit, and creativity to drive her team towards an employee experience that’s inclusive, supportive, and purposeful. Her secret sauce? A mix of strategy, innovation, empathy, a dash of wit, and a boatload of patience.