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Women-owned businesses hardest hit during coronavirus pandemic, study finds

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WATCH ABOVE: There is no doubt small businesses have been hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, but data from a Canadian accounting software firm suggests businesses owned by women are having an even tougher time to recover. Caryn Lieberman reports. – Dec 4, 2020

Rather than spending her days at ‘The Workaround’ in Toronto’s east end, small business owner Amanda Munday is at home helping her daughter, who is in coronavirus-related self-isolation , with virtual learning.

Munday’s six-year-old daughter was exposed to COVID-19 in the classroom, so she is home for the next two weeks along with her younger brother.

“They’re in lockdown right now because there multiple positive cases in her class and there’s nobody to be in isolation with her but me,” she said.

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Munday is a ‘mompreneur,’ sole owner of the parent-friendly workspace at the corner of Woodbine and Danforth avenues, which is closed due to the lockdown in Toronto. She said the pandemic has been especially hard on her business.

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“I have to prove that I have a viable business, I have to prove that I have the profits and now I’m closed and I have to prove that I will survive this and how can I? It’s an impossible situation,” she said.

New data by accounting software firm Freshbooks suggested Munday is not alone.

From job losses to significant drops in revenue, women and women-owned businesses are bearing the brunt of the economic fallout from the pandemic, according to a study that included more than 10,000 small businesses.

“Doesn’t matter the sector, if it’s a business led by a woman it’s struggling,” said Freshbooks co-founder Levi Cooperman.

“The health-care businesses, the education, social assistance businesses that are led by women are struggling even more.”

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The study found that, on average, women-owned businesses in Canada are taking nearly twice as long to recover from the financial setbacks brought on by COVID-19 compared to businesses owned by men.

“Industries most affected during the pandemic are women dominated, so education, restaurant, hospitality … if you are a self-employed person who has a business that works in these industries it’s been harder for you to recover because those industries really have been shut down,” pointed out personal finance expert Rubina Ahmed-Haq.

The study indicated Canadian women-owned businesses took ten weeks to begin to rebound, compared with five weeks for male-owned businesses. In some instances, businesses owned by men experienced no disruption at all.

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“The challenges they experienced before COVID were just piling on,” said Nancy Wilson, founder and CEO of the Canadian Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

“Lack of access to capital, unpaid caretaking labour, domestic labour, those issues basically were exacerbated and just blew up during COVID.”

Wilson said there have already been women business owners who have had to shut down, and she predicts there will be more.

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“Every day at least once one of us is having a meltdown, one of us is crying, one of us is saying ‘our life is over we don’t know how we’re going to survive this,’ and there’s usually at least one of two others saying ‘we’re going to get through this, it’s going to end,'” said Munday.

“We’re also adding the caregiving responsibilities, we’re adding homeschooling, this virtual learning, just the stress of whether or not our kids have COVID — it’s a lot.”

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