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Exclusive Interview with The Honourable Mary Ng

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Mary NG CanadaThe Honourable Mary Ng was first elected as the Member of Parliament for Markham—Thornhill in April 2017 and was appointed Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion in July 2018.

Throughout her 20 years of public service, Minister Ng has been a passionate community leader and advocate with a proven track record of results in the areas of education, women’s leadership, job creation, and entrepreneurship.

As Member of Parliament for Markham—Thornhill, Minister Ng helped to facilitate the Government’s commitment to invest in Canadian ideas and innovators in her riding by advocating for the inclusion of Markham’s tech-innovation hub, VentureLabs, in the Southern Ontario Supercluster. The Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster is expected to have a GDP impact of more than $13.5 billion in the next ten years and create more than 13,500 good, middle-class jobs in the region.

As part of her work on the Standing Committee of Industry, Science, and Technology, Minister Ng worked alongside her committee colleagues on intellectual property best practices. This work guided the Government’s launch of Canada’s first comprehensive intellectual property strategy, providing tools to support the growth of Canadian businesses domestically while ensuring their ideas are protected in the global marketplace.

Prior to serving as a Member of Parliament, Minister Ng worked as Director of Appointments in the Prime Minister’s Office. She also served as the Director of Policy in provincial education where she built relationships, negotiated with teachers’ unions, and served students while helping to improve Ontario’s education system.

Minister Ng also served in the President’s Office at Ryerson University, helping to shape new initiatives that connected students and their innovative ideas with businesses, creating quality jobs for young Canadians. She has been a speaker and panelist on topics ranging from business, innovation, women in leadership and Canada-China relations.

What is your message for women entrepreneurs on international women’s day?

My message for women entrepreneurs is that you can absolutely do it and I am here with you. I have a whole lot of energy and put in hard work to help you be successful in achieving your goals and dreams.

Please discuss the support and tools you are providing for female entrepreneurs and business owners.

I’d first like to mention the following: Women make up 50% of the population. SMEs are 99% of our businesses in Canada. However, only 16% of those businesses are women-owned or women lead. It’s interesting –  the New York Times reported there are more men named James that are CEOs in the US than there are women CEOs in total. Research tells us that when male entrepreneurs make pitches for capital (considering that it’s the exact same pitch); men are successful 68% of the time and women only 32% of the time.

I want to paint the context of what women entrepreneurs face today. Our government put forward the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy to help them grow. My mandate from the Prime Minister of Canada is to double women lead businesses by 2025 with a 2 billion dollar investment.

Has this $2 billion investment already kicked in? And can you please explain the various components of the investment?

It has already kicked in and I’d like to outline a few of the different components of that investment:

There’s a significant investment ($1.4 billion) to give women entrepreneurs debt financing. There is an $85 million Women’s EcoSystem fund. We know that given the barriers, we’re going to create an ecosystem that will support. Women don’t have the same kind of access and business network and we want to make sure that the toolkits and support are available to women in a way that they can access them.

Another $20 million is allocated for women entrepreneurs and women business owners to grow their businesses right away.

There’s a fund to help women in tech be more successful. We put $200 million into a Women’s and Technology Venture Fund so that we’re growing the VC environment to invest in these great female lead technology companies. We are also investing in helping women lead businesses to export their countries. As Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion, my goal is to help the women entrepreneurs understand and explore the various markets outside Canada, and take advantage of the successful new trade agreements signed by our government.

I’d like to conclude this section by commenting on McKinsey Global Institute studies that show that our $2 billion investment can add incremental GDP by $150 billion by 2026.

We’re not just doing it because it’s the right thing to do but because it will promote great job creation in our country.

How has your previous work experiences helped you succeed in your current role?

I serve in a government led by a PM where half of my colleagues are women. I am serving with a team and in an environment where our voices are equal. I’ve spent 20 years in public service -working in education policy in Ontario, working on the design of projects or policy at the civil service level. I spent a decade working in the postsecondary school level, creating an education hub, helping young people start and grow businesses. Many of these startups are innovative and have come out of our post-secondary institutions.

Have you worked in a small business before?

My family came to Canada when I was fairly young and I grew up in a small business that my parents operated. I bring a small business lens in my current role. I certainly understand the challenges small businesses go through- making payroll, servicing your customers and I apply that knowledge within my current role.

What is the primary advice you would give you female entrepreneurs?

I’m going to direct them to innovation.canada.ca. This is a great tool we’ve put out for female entrepreneurs. I want women entrepreneurs to be successful and know about all the programs we have for them and how to get access to them.

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