W100 Overview

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In many ways, female entrepreneurs have the odds stacked against them. They are more likely to be turned down for bank financing. They have to balance their work with their family life. And they still face long-outdated stereotypes about the types of companies they run.

Despite the obstacles, however, female entrepreneurship is thriving in Canada. Since 1997, women in Canada have started companies at about twice the rate of men. Women are driving some of this country’s most dynamic and robust businesses — and you’ll find the leaders of many of those firms on this year’s PROFIT W100, our list of Canada’s Top Women Entrepreneurs.

Now in its 11th year, the PROFIT W100 has become bigger and more inclusive. Previously based on annual company revenue alone, the 2009 W100 also takes the firm’s growth rate and profitability into account, allowing smaller companies to be recognized for their achievements; indeed, 36% of this year’s honourees are new to the list. We’ve also launched a new ranking of 10 up-and-coming women entrepreneurs whose companies are still in the emerging phase. (See “Ones to Watch”).

The result: a list of entrepreneurs who should be the envy of anyone in business, regardless of gender. Together, their firms employed 14,078 full- and part-time staff last year and generated $4.2 billion in revenue. In industries ranging from construction (six companies) and manufacturing (17) to business services (38) and software development (three), W100 companies have grown their sales by an average of 157% over the past three years. The vast majority — 93% — turned an operating profit in their most recent fiscal year.

In this package, you’ll find the new and improved list of Canada’s Top Women Entrepreneurs; meet the impressive women who top the list in “High Five”; discover how the W100 are using partnerships to boost their businesses in “More Perfect Unions”; and find out how one W100 winner is facing a classic entrepreneurial dilemma in “A Split Decision.”

How we ranked them:
The W100 and the up-and-comers are ranked by a composite of the size, growth rate and profitability of their businesses. All growth rates were based on base-year revenue of at least $200,000. Figures were verified through financial statements. To qualify, women must be owners or significant shareholders who at least share chief decision-making responsibility. Because this is a ranking of entrepreneurs rather than of companies, some participants are ranked on the combined performance of multiple qualifying companies. PROFIT solicited entries through an entry form published in PROFIT and at Entries were also solicited through the PROFIT-Xtra e-newsletter, Canadian Business, Chatelaine and Maclean’s magazines; through targeted direct mailings to past winners and other women business owners; and by the Canadian businesswomen’s organizations thanked online at

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