Profiling business ownership among people with disabilities

What does national data tell us about small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) owned or led by person(s) with disabilities (PwD) in Canada? We take a deeper look at the business ownership landscape to put inclusivity under the lens.

4 key stats on the PwD-owned business landscape in Canada

1   Under-representation in the market

Only 0.5% of all SMEs in Canada are PwD-owned. 

Out of 840,989 SMEs with a revenue of at least $30,000, 4,205 are majority-owned by person(s) with a disability. That means the overwhelming majority—99.5%—of businesses in Canada are led by leaders without a disability.

2   Regional discrepancy

Of the 4,205 businesses owned or led by a PwD in Canada, 2,485 are in Ontario, 663 are in British Columbia and the territories, 359 are in Quebec, 347 are in Alberta, 151 are in the Atlantic provinces, and 105 are in the Prairie provinces.

There is a significant discrepancy in the number of businesses owned by a PwD found across the country, with almost four times as many PwD-owned companies located in Ontario than any other province or territory.

Business spotlight

In December 2016, an individual suffered a traumatic injury that led to an impending release from their career after 22 years. Propelled to action by a passion for plants, this individual transformed the course of their life with one simple idea: a plant company. This vision grew into a successful online and in-store business specializing in rare and tropical house plants.


3   Under-representation in higher
     education programs

Only 3% of primary decision-makers in a SME majority-owned by a PwD have attained a master’s degree or above, compared to 15.1% of all SME data.

Did you know?

Primary decision-makers at PwD-owned SMEs are obtaining college, CEGEP, trade school, and bachelor’s education at a higher rate than all SMEs—57.7% compared to 54.8% of decision-makers in the overall SME data.

Business spotlight

After a traumatic accident left an individual in a wheelchair, they felt motivated to develop wheelchairs better suited to the needs of people with disabilities. In 2018, they founded a spinal cord injury and healthcare business that produces medical equipment and custom-tailored solutions.


4   Lack of business growth

There’s a significant gap of PwD-led businesses scaling from small (one to 99 employees) to medium-sized enterprises (100 to 499 employees).

70% of SMEs majority owned by a person with a disability employ one to four employees and 0.4% employ 100 to 499 employees. 

Did you know?

PwD-led SMEs are highly innovative—40.3% have introduced or significantly improved a service or good compared to 31.1% of the average SME.

Business spotlight

An entrepreneur with a disability and a passion for the design industry founded their business in June 2017. After several years of successful operations, the organization now offers design services, event décor rentals, and registry for weddings, fundraisers, baby showers, and anniversaries.


Need help establishing your inclusive workplace?

To learn how BDO can help your business promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, reach out to:

Profiling business ownership among people with disabilities

What does national data tell us about small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) owned or led by person(s) with disabilities (PwD) in Canada? We take a deeper look at the business ownership landscape to put inclusivity under the lens.

4 key stats on the PwD-owned business landscape in Canada

1   Under-representation in the market

Only 0.5% of all SMEs in Canada are PwD-owned. 

Out of 840,989 SMEs with a revenue of at least $30,000, 4,205 are majority-owned by person(s) with a disability. That means the overwhelming majority—99.5%—of businesses in Canada are led by leaders without a disability.

2   Regional discrepancy

Of the 4,205 businesses owned or led by a PwD in Canada, 2,485 are in Ontario, 663 are in British Columbia and the territories, 359 are in Quebec, 347 are in Alberta, 151 are in the Atlantic provinces, and 105 are in the Prairie provinces.

There is a significant discrepancy in the number of businesses owned by a PwD found across the country, with almost four times as many PwD-owned companies located in Ontario than any other province or territory.

Business spotlight

In December 2016, an individual suffered a traumatic injury that led to an impending release from their career after 22 years. Propelled to action by a passion for plants, this individual transformed the course of their life with one simple idea: a plant company. This vision grew into a successful online and in-store business specializing in rare and tropical house plants.


3   Under-representation in higher education programs

Only 3% of primary decision-makers in a SME majority-owned by a PwD have attained a master’s degree or above, compared to 15.1% of all SME data.

Did you know?

Primary decision-makers at PwD-owned SMEs are obtaining college, CEGEP, trade school, and bachelor’s education at a higher rate than all SMEs—57.7% compared to 54.8% of decision-makers in the overall SME data.

Business spotlight

After a traumatic accident left an individual in a wheelchair, they felt motivated to develop wheelchairs better suited to the needs of people with disabilities. In 2018, they founded a spinal cord injury and healthcare business that produces medical equipment and custom-tailored solutions.


4   Lack of business growth

There’s a significant gap of PwD-led businesses scaling from small (one to 99 employees) to medium-sized enterprises (100 to 499 employees).

70% of SMEs majority owned by a person with a disability employ one to four employees and 0.4% employ 100 to 499 employees. 

Did you know?

PwD-led SMEs are highly innovative—40.3% have introduced or significantly improved a service or good compared to 31.1% of the average SME.

Business spotlight

An entrepreneur with a disability and a passion for the design industry founded their business in June 2017. After several years of successful operations, the organization now offers design services, event décor rentals, and registry for weddings, fundraisers, baby showers, and anniversaries.


Need help establishing your inclusive workplace?

To learn how BDO can help your business promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, reach out to:

This publication uses cookies

We use functional and analytical cookies to improve our website. In addition, third parties place tracking cookies to display personalised advertisements on social media. By clicking accept you consent to the placement of these cookies.