DivE In: September 2023

DivE In is your monthly source to learn about diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) news, events and stories. Follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter to be notified when a blogpost is published. If you have any opportunities or news to share, please email programs(at)venturelabs.ca

In this month’s blog, we highlight female entrepreneurs and challenges they face when it comes to raising capital. You can expect to find links to articles that discuss some of the barriers women entrepreneurs face, some best practices around raising capital, investors who have women entrepreneurs as a priority in their funds, and upcoming events.


Five ways women founders can overcome the challenges faced when fundraising

The challenges around securing funding for women founders are both ongoing and well documented. Read what PWC has to say about some of the ways women founders can overcome the challenges faced when fundraising.

Finance investment program for women

Learn everything you need to get started on your early-stage investing journey. The Financial Feminism Investing Lab program introduces you to the ins and outs of early stage investing.

9 types of startup investors

Learn about the different types of startup investors and what drives them. Chris Neumann at Panache Ventures elaborates on the importance of understanding the types of investors you’re pitching to and how their underlying motivations can help you to be more successful when fundraising and more discerning when choosing who to invite onto your cap table.

Investors who may be of interest:

  • The Women’s Equity Lab (WEL) provides a collaborative environment for women investors who can play a leading role in building and supporting innovative companies that are transforming society. Read more about investment and funding opportunities here 
  • The 51 Ventures Fund II invests in early-stage companies, through their pooled fund, they make investments in women and gender-diverse early-stage innovative companies. 
  • InBC invests in companies and venture funds that demonstrate strong and measurable opportunities aligned to their People, Planet, Profit approach. Check out their article on Gender Lens Investing.


  • September 26 FREE WeBC Business Loan Info Session – Take advantage of these free zoom sessions held every second Tuesday of the month if you are looking to expand or purchase a business. 
  • September 27 Learn from women founders about how they secured their first $100k, from building their pitch deck to getting the signature on the cheque! Startup Canada is hosting this webinar for women-identifying entrepreneurs to learn how others have achieved their funding goals and how you can apply what they learned in your own fundraising journey.
  • October 3rd The Canadian Women’s Network is featuring women on the other side of the table, investors who are carving out a new voice in venture capital.
  • October 5th – Join Small Business BC’s small business community, network with fellow business owners, and learn critical skills to help your business flourish in a changing economy. To register, for the return of Build. Grow. Thrive., a day of free education and networking click here.


  • The Diversity Institute hosted an event “The Impact and Value of Inclusive Entrepreneurship: an Ecosystem Update”. One of the topics discussed was the systemic barriers that female entrepreneurs face when it comes to financing, especially black and indigenous female entrepreneurs. The panel also discussed some of the progress that have happened including the Black Entrepreneurship Fund that provides black entrepreneurs access to wrap-around support and a pathway to financial freedom.
  • The SOWE 2023 report is an annual go-to resource that provides valuable insights into the current landscape and sheds light on key trends in women’s entrepreneurship in Canada. Explore the findings, and by supporting women we can shape a brighter  future of all female entrepreneurs. 
  • The WEOC National Loan Program is for women and non-binary entrepreneurs as they start, scale, grow and maintain their business. Here are more details on the program.
  • One of the most important steps in preparing for an effective fundraising process is building a fully-researched pipeline of target investors. Learn more about the importance of researching target investors.


The WEKH See It. Be It. Database spotlights the stories of women entrepreneurs making an impact.

Brenda Irwin is the founder and managing partner of Relentless Venture Fund, a venture capital firm in the healthcare industry. With over two decades of experience in venture capitalism, Brenda has a proven track record in sourcing, structuring, and closing financial transactions. Prior to starting Relentless Venture Fund, she was a Partner at Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) where she managed a $100M portfolio and co-founded an angel investment group alongside Olympian Simon Whitfield. Brenda is also an EIR for Life Sciences BC’s “Investor Readiness Program”, an associate of Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), and former member of the national Digital Supercluster’s Project Selection Committee.

VentureLabs has partnered with Toronto Metropolitan University’s Diversity Institute as a BC partner for the 50 – 30 Challenge.


The Challenge is aimed at advancing gender parity and increasing diversity on boards and in senior leadership roles. The aim:

  • 50% of board seats and leadership roles held by women and non-binary people
  • 30% of board seats and leadership roles held by members of other under-represented and/or equity-seeking groups (including racialized, Black and/or people of colour, people with disabilities, LGBTQ2+ people, and Indigenous people)

VentureLabs is proud to be the Regional Hub for the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH) in BC. We are driven to create a more inclusive and supportive environment to grow women’s entrepreneurship in Canada. We challenge stereotypes, overcome barriers, and bring resources together in support of women entrepreneurs.

WEKH is a Government of Canada initiative that brings together service providers, programs, partners, and research across Canada in support of women entrepreneurs.

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