The Centre for Women in Business based out of Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, says the pandemic has presented unique challenges for female entrepreneurs.
Its executive director Tanya Priske says there are more than 23,000 women in Nova Scotia who identify as self-employed and about 73 per cent of them are solopreneurs - meaning they run their business alone.
She says one of the principal issues with COVID-19 government support, is the focus on small and medium sized enterprises, which excludes many female entrepreneurs who are more likely to be solopreneurs, or self-employed without employees but often with subcontractors.
"A lot of the federal and provincial programs are based on salary thresholds, and solopreneurs typically don't pay themselves a salary, they may take out dividends or they just don't have the salary expectations to be able to apply," she says. "They are definitely being left out and we are hearing that from a lot of professional services people."
Female entrepreneurs are also predominantly in sectors hit hardest by the pandemic.
"Typically they're mostly operating or working in that hospitality, tourism sector or the education sector which are bearing the brunt of this destruction by COVID-19," she says.
The Centre for Women in Business is regularly meeting virtually with the Nova Scotia Business Labour Coalition to talk about the local impact of COVID-19. It is also in talks with the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, a federal government-funded initiative based at Toronto's Ryerson University, to talk about the pandemic's impact specifically on women.
Every Thursday the Centre for Women in Business hosts an online conversation called Coffee Talk, to help connect rural women in business with each other.
"We invite women not only in Nova Scotia but anywhere to call in," she says. "Most recently, they have been focused on how people are dealing with COVID-19."