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Investment Training for Women Entrepreneurs

Ready to grow?

If your business has a product line that has proven itself in the market and you believe it is time to scale up, you’re likely close to being Venture-Capital Ready. We’re here to help and prepare you for financial investment.

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Be Venture-Capital Ready.

If it is time to grow your agri-food business but, like many women, BIPOC, and gender diverse entrepreneurs, you worry about the challenges and barriers you could face in finding financing – this program provides you with the insight, know-how, and resources you need.

Through Small Scale Food Processors Association’s Venture-Capital Ready: Investment Training for Women Entrepreneurs (VC Ready) program, you will be supported by industry specialists to prepare for challenges, create your pitch strategy, and have the opportunity to present to potential venture-capital Investors.

Work on your business instead of in your business.

The Venture Capital Ready Program

Ready to start?

We are so excited to team up with you and provide the support you need to take your amazing agri-food business to the next level — The first important step is to assess your eligibility for the Venture-Capital Ready program!

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This program is free for all participants.

How the Program Works

  • Register & Assessment
    Login to register and complete our Eligibility Assessment. Once eligible, you’ll be directed to complete the Business Intake Form, which will help clarify the areas where you need to focus in on in your journey to investment.
  • Receive Resources & Support
    Participate in workshops or other training events depending on your particular business needs.
  • Complete Investoready© program
    Join this mandatory twelve-week program to learn how to manage crucial investor question-and-answer sessions through role-playing and expert feedback. Expect to invest 2 hours per week.
  • Practice in a Pitch Party, Meet Potential Investors
    Develop your pitch deck, then present your pitch to your peer group of other female founders to give and receive feedback. Then join a pitch party hosted by financial services firm SVX; interested investors will be in attendance.
  • Use the Investor Pipeline
    Complete the documents needed to set up your deal room. Then complete your business profile, which will be listed on the SVX impact investment index and the SSFPA website, where it can be viewed by interested investors. When an interested investor contacts you, use your new skills to pitch your business. Continue on your own to meet and appear before investors in pitch competitions, venture capital panels and other investment forums.
  • Final step: Strike a deal*
    When an investor has indicated interest in your business, invite them to your Deal Room to review your investment readiness. Make your business deal. Tell us about your success!

* This program does NOT guarantee venture capital, only the opportunity to prepare you and your business for investment.

Venture-Capital Ready: Investment Training for Women Entrepreneurs is a new initiative of the Small Scale Food Processor Association. With our many partners, we have created a Canada-wide program that trains BIPOC, gender diverse, rural, and otherwise marginalized women in the agri-food space to get financing, improve the networks and expertise they need. With this training, they will be READY to present their scale-up plan to interested investors. We are grateful to the Government of Canada’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy for the funding support to make this much needed program possible.

Meet Our

Investment Training Partners

Frequently Asked Questions

We are Ready for your questions

How do women entrepreneurs get ready for venture capital?

“There’s a very small amount of venture capital that is raised by women. We’re working with venture capitalists to resolve that situation. We want to make more women investor-ready so they can be financed by venture capitals, so we will have more role models to offer to other women and so improve the number of women who are being financed by venture capital.” Dr. Ellen Farrell, Investoready

“To promote the right values and culture, we need to work towards a more gender-inclusive financial service industry that addresses the barriers women face from a demand and supply perspective. Women’s leadership in the financial services sector must be supported and improved by encouraging higher gender diversity on boards and senior executive positions of financial institutions, as it is related to increasing the rate of funding for women entrepreneurs.” (From Financing Women Entrepreneurs in Canada, 2022, at wekh.ca)

Research finds that women entrepreneurs in Canada outperform their male counterparts by 63%, yet receive only 1.9% of the country’s investment deals — a disadvantage that blocks them from access to financing and new markets. (Statistics provided by The 51)

Why is our program so important?

  • Because when small-scale food processors are properly financed, we have the power to help grow healthy, sustainable food supply chains in Canada
  • Because little regional manufacturing infrastructure exists to support our food processors, and we need financial help to create it
  • Because our food system and our small-scale food processors are vitally important! Canadians want healthy, sustainable food products from their own regions, and our initiatives help provide those products to consumers

Who’s on our team of trainers?

Ellen Farrell of Investoready©. Dr. Farrell is co-Director of the Master of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation at St. Mary’s University and has been twice recognized as one of Canada’s top six mentors by BDC and Futurepreneur. She trains women entrepreneurs to take control in investor question-and-answer sessions by countering leading questions and steering the conversation into positive, aspirational directions

SVX, a nonprofit diversified financial services firm that works across sectors including food, cleantech, health, work and learning, and social inclusion.

Movement 51, a Financial Feminist™ platform where current and aspiring investors work to democratize access to capital for women/intersectional business owners

Farm Food Drink is a team of market research, business planning, and marketing experts focused solely on farm, food, and drink businesses and the organizations that support them.

Why do food processors struggle in the venture-capital space?

  • Our business models are not well understood. It can be difficult to demonstrate success to investors who are not familiar with the food processing industry
  • Food businesses typically lack the scale of tech start-ups, so investment in our projects may not seem as attractive. But our innovations — using new ingredients or making existing products healthier, greener or more affordable, for example — can be just as profitable as tech businesses
  • The complexity of the food processing business — i.e., stringent processing policies, an ultra-competitive marketplace, challenging distribution logistics — make it difficult for investors to gauge risks and opportunities

What other challenges do women/intersectional entrepreneurs face in getting investment funding?

In a survey of Small Scale Food Processor Association’s (SSFPA) women members, 100% of them said they faced numerous challenges when seeking business funding:

  • Many seeking funding were turned away from their own banks because they were not able to guarantee business profitability or a spotless track record
  • Most banks also demand that lenders own their own home or can personally guarantee the loan
  • Women seeking “B” lending from other financial sources face high interest rates, unrealistic repayment plans, and untrustworthy methods of vetting investors

In almost all cases, our business people reported gender barriers at both banks and other financial sources. Venture-Capital Ready: Investment Training for Women Entrepreneurs trains participants to recognize and address these barriers.

Who’s supporting our program with project management and communications?

  • The Small Scale Food Processors Association (SSFPA) leadership team will provide project management, oversight and reporting. Meet the team members on our Program Partners page
  • Canadian Women in Food will provide program promotion at trade shows in Ontario and BC to reach entrepreneurs who are not linked with a training organization
  • Collectif Récolte will provide services in French for those requesting this service and will provide coaching services in French

Register for Venture-Capital Ready

Ready to start your VC Ready adventure?

Register now and complete the Eligibility Assessment – the first step to starting your Venture-Capital Ready adventure.

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We thank our hard-working and dedicated partners for making this program possible.