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Greening Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Women Entrepreneurs and the Path to Net Zero

The transition toward a net-zero economy is gaining momentum in Canada, and women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are an important part of this evolution. Not only are SMEs owned by women more likely to prioritize sustainability, but women entrepreneurs are reshaping technologies, processes, products and services, and creating a way forward.

Canada’s net-zero goals are articulated in the 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan. The transition to net zero requires action in businesses across sectors and at every stage of the value chain.

Research has shown that women entrepreneurs are more likely to prioritize sustainability goals, and while under-represented in green tech, they are leading innovations across sectors and the value chain. Our case studies of 43 women entrepreneurs show the diversity of their contributions to the net-zero economy. These “green-preneurs” are driving sustainable and net-zero initiatives through the entire value system from procurement, to operations, to sales and marketing and distribution. At the same time, women green-preneurs face barriers at multiple levels and identify supports that they need to realize their potential.

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Key Insights


A net-zero economy will not be created through capital-intensive, technological development alone. The pathways to net zero, like the transformation associated with digitization, require the adoption of new policies, processes and behaviours throughout the ecosystem.


SMEs play an important role in the Canadian economy. While green tech is important, there needs to be more focus on the adoption of new technologies and processes, and the development of new products and services to drive “greenification” of SMEs in the country’s transition to net zero.


Women and other diverse entrepreneurs can make valuable contributions in the push toward net zero across sectors and at various stages in the value chain and should be actively engaged in the strategy.

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