Inclusive Trade strategy will support a more inclusive and diverse Canadian economy

Export Development Canada (EDC) has committed $200 million in equity support and set new 2023 targets to help create more opportunities for women, Indigenous and minority-owned and -led export businesses by addressing one of their main barriers to growth – the lack of equitable access to capital. 

EDC’s new Inclusive Trade Investments Program seeks to remedy this by providing equity capital to Canadian exporting businesses owned or led by women, Indigenous Peoples, Black Canadians, people of colour, members of the LGBTQ2+ community and those with mixed abilities. As an extension to EDC’s original Women in Trade Investments Program (WITIP), the expanded commitment has doubled our support and extends it to even more diverse and underrepresented businesses.

This program was launched as part of EDC’s broader Inclusive Trade strategy to support these business communities, and to deepen our impact on inclusion, diversity and equity. To achieve this, EDC has also set new 2023 targets for its support for Women in Trade and Indigenous businesses. As we learn more about the needs of other diverse and historically underrepresented businesses, and the best ways to support them, we will be evolving our strategy - and establishing targets - to reflect this. We look forward to working with our partners and with Canadian entrepreneurs as we grow and evolve in this area.

2023 Women in Trade targets:

  • Increase to 2,000 customers served, from 1,052 in 2020
  • Increase to $6 billion in trade facilitated, from $2.83 billion in 2020 

2023 Indigenous Business targets:

  • Increase to 400 customers served, from 77 in 2020
  • Increase to $650 million in trade facilitated, from $119.3 million in 2020

“The scope of our support has progressed from its initial focus on women, to now include Indigenous-owned and -led businesses, and we’re firmly committed to continually evolving our approach to reach even more diverse Canadian business owners,” said EDC’s Director of Inclusive Trade Jennifer Cooke. “The goal of our inclusive trade strategy – and this program at its centre – is to work towards improved access to EDC financial and knowledge solutions, so all Canadian export businesses can realize their international growth potential.”

Under the Inclusive Trade Investments Program, EDC is seeking to invest in women, Indigenous and minority-owned and -led export businesses with high growth potential. In addition, EDC welcomes the opportunity to invest its capital through limited partnerships with well-established investment funds that share a similar goal of supporting diverse and underrepresented entrepreneurs, or funds that have a significant number of women or diverse investment decision makers. Increasing access to capital will help address some of the chronic liquidity shortfalls these businesses face, while providing funds to help them pursue their export objectives.

“We believe it’s more important than ever to increase our support for diverse-owned and -led businesses to help level the playing field by improving access to capital,” said EDC’s President and CEO Mairead Lavery.   “Not only have these businesses been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have faced - and continue to face - systemic discrimination and unjust hurdles in society and business. This has reinforced our need to double-down and accelerate our support to these important contributors to the Canadian economy and our communities.”

EDC’s focus on inclusive trade has grown steadily in recent years. For example, between 2018 and 2020, EDC increased the number of women-owned and -led customers served, and total business facilitated by 65% and 258%, respectively. 

Having appointed a national lead for Indigenous business in 2019, EDC embarked on a strategy in 2020 to accelerate the international success of Indigenous companies. Since then, we’ve built important partnerships, increased our risk and lending appetite, and most recently, participated in the new $150 million Indigenous Growth Fund (IGF), to name a few initiatives.

About EDC

Export Development Canada (EDC) is a financial Crown corporation dedicated to helping Canadian businesses make an impact at home and abroad. EDC has the financial products and knowledge Canadian companies need to confidently enter new markets, reduce financial risk and grow their business as they go from local to global. Together, EDC and Canadian companies are building a more prosperous, stronger and sustainable economy for all Canadians.

For more information and to learn how we can help your company, call us at 1-800-229-0575 or visit