Daniele Henkel receives congratulations on her appointment as a leadership champion of the Women’s Enterprise Leadership Group to assist the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) in supporting women entrepreneurs in developing countries at the Montreal Conference on June 12, 2018. (Levon Sevunts/RCI)

Canada names former ‘dragon’ to champion women entrepreneurs


International Development Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau named Tuesday a well-known Quebec entrepreneur and media personality Daniele Henkel as Canada’s representative to a World Bank group that works to promote women entrepreneurship in developing countries.

The Morocco-born self-made millionaire and the former “dragon” on a popular Quebec TV reality show Dans l’œil du dragon has been named a leadership champion of the Women’s Enterprise Leadership Group to assist the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) in supporting women entrepreneurs in developing countries, Bibeau announced.

“I congratulate Danièle Henkel on her appointment as a champion of women’s economic empowerment in developing countries,” Bibeau said.

“We know that we all benefit when women fully participate in our economies. Advancing gender equality and empowering women to lead and manage their own businesses will help raise their families and communities out of poverty.”

$1.6 billion raised for women entrepreneurs

We-Fi was launched at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2017 with the financial backing of 14 governments, including that of Canada, Bibeau told Radio Canada International in an interview on the sidelines of the 25th edition of the Montreal Conference international forum.

“Canada was one of the first countries to contribute to this We-Fi initiative with a $20 million investment,” Bibeau said.  “And with 14 governments we put $340 million in this initiative and the objective was to raise $1 billion in private investment. And only with the first call for proposal we are already at $1.6 billion.”

(click to listen to the interview with Marie-Claude Bibeau)


The fund will provide financial support, training and networks to women who own and operate small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) in developing countries, Bibeau said.

According to World Bank, women entrepreneurs face numerous challenges to financing, owning, and growing a business, including legal and policy obstacles to business ownership and development.

About 70 percent of women-owned SMEs in developing countries can’t get the capital they need, resulting in a credit deficit of nearly $1.5 trillion, according to World Bank estimates.

Breaking barriers

Minister of International Development and La Francophonie Marie-Claude Bibeau was one of the guest of honour at the 25th edition of the Montreal Conference international business forum. (Levon Sevunts/RCI)

With the We-Fi fund and various initiatives within its Feminist International Assistance Policy Canada is working on overcoming barriers for women entrepreneurs, Bibeau said.

“We know that it’s harder for women to have access to the markets, to have access to financing, in many countries it’s the laws that are discriminating them from having the right to own property or having the right to own a business,” Bibeau said. “So the idea is to work on these barriers, to work with local women’s organizations, to work with local government as well for them to have more inclusive laws and programs.”

Educating girls

This idea of breaking barriers for girls and women also underpinned the initiative to raise billions of dollars for a fund to educate girls in conflict situations championed by Canada at the recent G7 leaders’ summit in Charlevoix, Bibeau said.

The announcement that Canada was able to raise $3.8 billion dollars in pledges towards education of girls in developing countries and conflict situations was one of the biggest achievements of the tumultuous summit that was overshadowed by dramatic disagreements over trade.

“We all agree that if we want to empower women, we need educated girls and have to work once again on the barriers that adolescent girls have to face to complete their education and to access a career or to build a business,” Bibeau said.

The idea is to provide girls with school and qualified teachers, but also to look at environmental factors that prevent adolescent girls from going to school and completing their education, she said.

“It could be because of violence, because of rape, because of early marriage, because of early pregnancy, because it’s not secure to get to school, because there are no sanitary (conditions) for girls, especially when they have their menstruation, they don’t  go to school,” Bibeau said. “There are so many barriers.”

Changing cultural and social norms

Development and humanitarian groups welcomed the government’s announcements.

“It is encouraging that Canada is taking a leadership position in the global efforts to empower women and girls in crisis, and to create new opportunities for women entrepreneurs in developing countries,” said Julia Sanchez, president and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation (CCIC), an umbrella group that brings together Canadian-based international development and humanitarian organizations.

“To be truly transformative and feminist, Canada also needs to address the social and political barriers that impede women from being fully empowered, such as changing cultural and social norms and stereotypes, updating legislation and policy so that it does not discriminate based on gender, and advocating for greater space for women in positions of economic and political leadership.”

Categories: International, Politics
Tags: , , ,

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.