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10 things you (probably) didn’t know about Canadian SMEs

Read time: 3 minutes


Small business is big in Canada: 98.2% of all businesses have fewer than 100 employees. When you add in medium-sized businesses (100 to 499 employees), the percentage rises to 99.8%. They are the engine of the economy and their success is vital to Canada’s prosperity.

Here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and their impact on Canada’s economy.

  1. There are almost 1.1 million SMEs in Canada.
  2. More than half (55%) have fewer than 4 employees.
  3. Only 1.6% are medium-sized businesses.
  4. Small businesses employed almost 69.7% of private sector workers in 2012, or 7.7 million people across the country.
  5. In the 2002 to 2012 period, small businesses were responsible for 77.7% of all jobs created in the private sector. Small businesses created around 100,000 jobs each year on average.
  6. SMEs represent 54.2% of the economic output produced by the business sector (in 2005).
  7. 90% of exporting companies have fewer than 100 employees, but produce 25% of the total value of Canadian exports.
  8. The largest number of SMEs are in the wholesale trade and retail sector (18.8%).
  9. Fewer than one out of four Canadian SMEs invest in research and development (R&D).
  10. Only half of new firms (51%) survive their fifth year of operation.

Source: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.