Thank you very much.
Good afternoon. I did prepare so that I could be succinct and to the point.
By the way, this is the second time I am a witness—not at this particular committee, but I did a witnessing in 2011 as well. Maybe you'll get a bit of progress in 2017.
My name is Dr. Sue Abu-Hakima. I am co-founder and CEO of the Amika Mobile Corporation. Our company in its current form was founded in 2007. This is my second start-up, my second company, my second SME. The first one we built was an AI company that was actually a spinoff from NRC's government R and D labs in 1999. We built it up as a compliance company. It was acquired by Entrust, which is a secure messaging corporation, and it had 18 patents behind it.
Over my 17 years as an entrepreneur, my companies have contributed over $21 million to the local economy. This number is based on investments and M&A results in terms of selling our compliance business unit, the first acquisition, as well as revenues. We've created approximately 250 high-tech jobs over the years, which, according to Invest Ottawa, you can multiply by four, because each one creates four spinoff service jobs. That's a total of about 1,000 jobs that I personally would have been involved in.
The current company is Amika Mobile. It is self-funded by angel investment and focused on critical and emergency communications for public safety and security, including integrations that leverage automatic detection of mobile devices in public places. If you had my product today, I could discover your mobile devices and take you to safety if, heaven forbid, all hell breaks loose, as happened in Parliament in 2014.
Amika Mobile has had approximately $3.5 million's worth of angel investment, which is not a lot, given our output. Our current senior team participates as angel investors, and as such, we are all very committed to the company. We would raise $5 million in investment if we could, but there continues to be an absent venture capital market in this country, especially for women-owned businesses, so we accept it. I've been at it for 17 years. I know how to work through it.
You should know that only about 4% of all companies typically get venture-backed, and female ventures, sadly, get only about 0.1%, which is a really sad number. That's very little. According to a report published by Janice McDonald and Claire Beckton, eight out of 10 women get rejected by banks in terms of financing, even though we run approximately 46% of the SMEs in this country, or close to 950,000, according to their report as well as the Startup Canada numbers.
We are noticing that BDC is starting to be more active with women in terms of loans, but they have very steep terms and a very small equity fund directed at women, in comparison to their $8-billion budget, which they typically focus on male-led ventures. That's a discussion for another day.
Let's talk about procurement.
We certified as an international women-owned business this year. I noticed that earlier you had witnesses on the Canada version of what we did. We've done international certification. That's going to open a lot more corporate customers to us, as they all have set-asides of 20% to 30% procurement for women, which is a huge number. Walmart, in particular—I was at an event last week in Toronto—has announced $20 billion's worth of procurement from women's businesses for 2018. That is fantastic for us. We are already excited and talking to them about it in terms of procuring our products.
We have a multi-million-dollar quotes funnel, so please don't feel sorry for us if we can't get venture capital. We do it through revenues, with many opportunities from the United States government, which also has a set-aside of 20%. We have over 150 global customers active in our company funnel, but I'm going to skip all this.
We have also won a lot of awards, and we have about 12 patents to our name. This year, we were selected for a third year in a row as the best emergency communication solution by the U.S. Govies, and FEMA has also picked us for a top award. As I mentioned, we have innovative and unique technology. We can do automatic discovery at airports. We are being used in United States stadiums now, and we are growing.
In terms of government programs that we've leveraged—and I'm sure this is the kind of stuff you guys are curious about—we've certainly benefited from government programs such as SR and ED, PRECARN, IRAP, BCIP, and CIIRDF.
I've been an entrepreneur for 17 years in tech, in Canada, as a woman, and with no venture capital accessible, I've been very good at ferreting out other programs for both the start-ups that I've done in tech.
IRAP, I would have to say, was a godsend for quite a while, but at some point they aligned themselves with BDC and stopped funding women, which is ridiculous. They've gone through a review, and now they have a new president. I would like to give him kudos. I'm happy to report that he's supporting women and trying to remove gender bias from NRC, so hats off to him.
SR and ED has also, of course, been a godsend for us, because we're so innovative. We've also partnered with and supported universities and colleges through collaborative research funded through the Ontario centres of excellence, PRECARN, and NSERC to help train students and make professional research more relevant.
CIIRDF is another program that has been a more difficult grants program because of their processes that seem to penalize the SME in terms of workload and administration, but they've allowed us to work with a good partner in Israel and fund a project.
I also wear a community service hat. I served as the vice-chair of the board of directors of the Ontario centres of excellence and I was also an adviser on NSERC's private sector advisory committee in terms of the national centres of excellence. I do understand research. I understand trying to do clusters. I understand trying to build the innovation capability in this country. The reason I do this is I'm trying to encourage more men and women to go into STEM, especially young people. Both of my kids, by the way, are STEM graduates, so I'm very proud of that.
In terms of government procurement, we've responded to at least 50 RFPs from the Government of Canada over the last 17 years. That's a lot of RFPs, and they are a lot of effort. We have not won a single one. That is ridiculous, but it's true. Even in our first company, which was a compliance-based company with content analysis, our products were always selected as the top technical innovative products in an RFP, but we still didn't win the contracts. We were never awarded the contracts.
You're not necessarily going to like me for saying this again, and I'm sure everybody else says it: the reason for this, I have to tell you, is that I'm an SME, and nobody gets fired for buying IBM. We could add Bell to that, or CGI.