Thank you for letting me speak to you today about how entrepreneurship is becoming an increasingly important option for all young people, but especially women. As youth unemployment remains high, more young people are becoming aware of the opportunity to start a business or to take over a retiring business owner's operation and put their own stamp on it.
Barb McLean-Stollery from Calgary is just one example. When 9/11 ended her hope of becoming an airplane pilot, she joined a Calgary aircraft-grooming business and ended up buying it with our help when the owner retired. The problem for most young people is that they don't have any business experience or assets, and they're too high risk and time-consuming for banks and other conventional lenders. Young entrepreneurs need training, money, and mentoring to launch and grow. Barb had this experience as well: who was going to lend to a woman in her twenties without a house or a car or any kind of business track record?
Futurpreneur Canada is the only national non-profit organization that gives aspiring young entrepreneurs anywhere in Canada what they need most. In the last 20 years, we've given ten thousand 18- to 39-year-olds business-plan coaching, volunteer mentors, and up to $45,000 in non-collateral loans from Futurpreneur and our co-funder, BDC. The federal government has been a critical partner in our work since 2006, and we recently had our funding renewed through ISED.
We are incredibly proud that 40% of our Futurpreneur businesses, over 400 in the last year alone, are female-owned. This is double the national average for majority-female-owned businesses. As you probably know, since majority-female-owned businesses are more likely than others to engage in product and other kinds of innovation, it's important that we increase this average from the current and very dismal 15.5%.
Why does the rate of female entrepreneurship lag behind that of male, particularly in the growth stages? Most aspiring young entrepreneurs lack confidence, entrepreneurial skills, networks, and financing. For women, these challenges are compounded by having far fewer role models and by not being well understood by lenders. Like other young entrepreneurs, women need help to overcome these challenges. This includes awareness raising and encouragement, business-plan coaching and mentoring, as well as financing and other launch and growth support.
We have the opportunity to leverage the proven supports that exist in Canada to benefit more women entrepreneurs without duplicating infrastructure and efforts. At Futurpreneur, we consult and work with aspiring women entrepreneurs and the other organizations that support women to understand and respond to women's highest priority needs. We know that engaging young women through awareness raising and outreach, in collaboration with partners, is key. For example, we recently teamed up with BDC on a campaign promoting women entrepreneurs and the support we have available to them. It was called “Be the Boss of You”, and it was one of our most popular campaigns ever. We reached over a million people through social media and generated a huge amount of interest from young women in our entrepreneurial programs.
We're also doing targeted outreach to part-time or side-hustle entrepreneurs. These are people who are working in other jobs but on the side are building businesses that employ people. This can be really appealing to women entrepreneurs, because it reduces the risks of starting up, and it lets them choose when they want to enter that business full time themselves.
Once we reach women, they need help to turn their business ideas into reality. At Futurpreneur we do this through skill-building and ideation workshops, business-plan coaching, webinars, and online resources.
We also provide loans that are generally enough to get a business started, or at least they provide a basis for further financing. Banks and other lenders take a lot of comfort in knowing that every futurpreneur has a volunteer mentor from our network of about 3,000 volunteers across the country. Like us, they know that mentoring significantly impacts the chances of someone's long-term business success, especially for women.
As more women get interested in becoming entrepreneurs and building businesses for themselves and jobs for others, governments and organizations like ours have to work together to get them the support they need to move forward. Futurpreneur Canada has long helped women to launch businesses and industries ranging from retail to food to technology, but our consultations confirm that there's a significant opportunity to expose more women to the concept of entrepreneurship as a career option, and to help them secure the financing, financial literacy, business skills, and networks they need to launch and grow businesses in Canada.
As always, we stand ready to collaborate with governments and other partners across the country to realize this opportunity.
How will we benefit? I want to return to Barb, who in the last 10 years has increased revenue at her company by 1,500%. She added locations and donated huge amounts of resources to help the people in Fort McMurray when they needed help last summer. Barb's growth isn't only national, it's global. She was chosen by Futurpreneur Canada last year to participate in the G20 Young Entrepreneurs' Alliance Summit in Beijing, and she has since successfully expanded her operations to China. Canada needs more Barbs.
I'm hoping that you have questions. That is the end of my prepared remarks.
Thank you and merci.