Quebec Entrepreneurial Index | More women and immigrants among new entrepreneurs

For the past year, the rate of women who embark on entrepreneurship has been much higher than that of men, according to the Quebec Entrepreneurial Index of the Mentoring Network. But the intention to undertake has never been so low since 2013. A look at the results of the study.

Posted at 6:00 a.m.

Isabelle Masse

Isabelle Masse
The Press


Among new SME owners since 2021, 64.8% are women. Five years ago, this proportion was 51.4%. “More than ever, women play a leading role in the business world, and these rates reflect their dynamism,” reads the study.

The same is true for people with an immigrant background, who are twice as “dynamic”. Becoming an entrepreneur is desired by 41.8% of immigrants, against 28.1% among “natives”. “We will always see people start, because access to employment is difficult,” says Rina Marchand, Senior Director of Content and Innovation for the Mentoring Network. But it is primarily a choice. All people combined, the rate of immigrants who want to undertake is twice as high as among natives. »

What is entrepreneurial intention?

Want to start/take over a business one day or be in the process of taking concrete steps to create/take over one.


This is the overall entrepreneurial intention rate. It has been down significantly since the start of the pandemic. The shortage of labor is particularly in question. It is above all the desire of men and young people to undertake that has cooled down. From 2019 to 2021, the intention rate slipped from 23.8% to 15.2% among men, and from 17.3% to 14.9% among women. “The pandemic was an opportunity to rethink ourselves and rethink business models,” says Rina Marchand. For the women, it was an opportunity to say: I’m going to take the time to think about my project. Digital transformation is concrete for them. The training is done online. Even with family chores, it allowed them to attend training. »


Rina Marchand, Senior Director of Content and Innovation of the Mentoring Network

Despite the decline in the rate of entrepreneurial intention, we have seen a stability in the rate among women for the past two years. There has been a dynamism for a few years in them. We wondered what the effect of the pandemic would be. In men, the rate has dropped significantly. They project themselves less in this profession. There was a smaller decline among women.

Rina Marchand, Senior Director of Content and Innovation of the Mentoring Network

Solo entrepreneurs

Women are at the head of SMEs that are often smaller than those run by men. “Women are starting smaller businesses,” notes Rina Marchand. A series of things come with that: lower turnover, companies that don’t think about going international. They undertake a lot by tinting the company’s mission with their personality. But if they have a high-profile business model, the ambition is equal to that of men. They are as dynamic, competent, proactive and eager to grow the company. »

Neuro-atypical present

Nearly twice as many people say they live with Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder or Asperger’s Syndrome among all small business owners than in society as a whole, at 11.2 % versus 6.2%. “These are people used to working outside the box,” says Rina Marchand. Entrepreneurs refuse the status quo. There is no one path for them. Standard job codes are not for them. In terms of mentoring, it’s good to have such data, because it will influence the way to accompany these people. »

Government and mentors to the rescue

It is important to be concerned about this decline in entrepreneurial intentions, notes Rina Marchand. “Because of the aging population, the pandemic, the labor shortage, she lists. You have to invest in the creation of businesses, nurture that, otherwise the rate of owners will go down. We must continue to help SMEs, to plant seeds, because we need to preserve our autonomy. You have to be in control of businesses to create more jobs. »

Nothing to lose


Andrea Gomez, CEO of Omy Laboratories

In 2018, Andrea Gomez co-created Omy Laboratoires, a company specializing in custom-designed skin products, thanks to its artificial intelligence software (SkinIA). The pandemic and the drive of Quebecers to buy local and online boosted sales by 500%. The entrepreneur does not regret going into business.

Why did you create Omy Laboratories?

I come from a family of entrepreneurs in Colombia. I saw the difficulties through which my father passed, to be paid, in particular. So I initially wanted to work for a big company. But I wanted to create something. I saw that there was a need. When I was younger, I had a lot of acne and redness. It was complicated for a person who has more than one skin problem to find a suitable product. I first pitched my idea to a big, well-known company. I had a refusal. It pained me. I decided to do it by myself. The culture is not the same here, women are more listened to, respected. With us, it’s patriarchal.

So I started talking to my network. I have a background in business administration and am finishing an MBA, but I lacked expertise in chemistry. While networking, I was put in touch with Rachelle Séguin, who has a master’s degree in pharmaceutical sciences and a bachelor’s degree in cosmeceutical chemistry. It was the meet perfect ! There was an ecosystem that allowed me to move forward. We had a scholarship and prizes, money to advance in research and development. In Quebec, we have support.

What do you think drives people of immigrant background to go into business?

Changing countries forces us to step out of our comfort zone. I learned French when I arrived in Quebec, at 16 years old. I didn’t know anything. You leave everything that is dear to you. It forces you to learn quickly. And that’s exactly what entrepreneurship is, this ability to manage change and stress. Once you’ve jumped, it’s exciting because you grow and learn. Entrepreneurship is easier once you’ve lost everything. This tolerance for change relieves us of fears. Opportunities in Colombia are really rare. Here there is help, others have done it. It couldn’t be worse than my house!

The mentorship helped me a lot. I surrounded myself with caring people to share my feelings of loneliness and rejection. We are human, so the need to be accompanied is essential. I was told, “You have nothing to lose. The worst that can happen is having to find a job afterwards. My mentor saw that I could take the risk. I lived with my mother and I had a car that was worth $3,000. Sometimes it just takes a pat on the back. You have to dare, otherwise you will say to yourself afterwards: I should have done it.

Women entrepreneurs remain rarer than entrepreneurs. Why ?

It takes models and, in this regard, there is still a long way to go. It comes from us too. We ask ourselves more questions, we put more barriers. We don’t dare, even if we want to. Among the barriers that prevent women from thriving, I am thinking of childcare services. I have 30 employees, 86% of whom are women in their thirties. We want to solve problems, but there are obstacles. It takes funding for child care, in particular. At the start, Rachelle and I were looked down on because we were two women with no assets. It was difficult to find the first financing, but we persisted.

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