Feds Announce Canada’s First-Ever Black Entrepreneurship Program

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OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced investments of up to nearly $221 million, in partnership with Canadian financial institutions, to launch Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program. This includes an investment of up to approximately $93 million from the Government of Canada over the next four years.

This program is intended help thousands of Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country recover from the COVID-19 crisis and grow their businesses.

“The pandemic has shone a light on the inequalities that disproportionately hurt Black Canadians and has underscored the need to re-start our economy in a way that allows all Canadians an equal chance to succeed,” says Trudeau. “That’s why today — thanks in part to the leadership, advocacy and expertise of Black business owners and Black-led organizations — we’re announcing Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program. As we move forward, this program will help support Black entrepreneurs and create new opportunities for Black-owned businesses, so they are well-positioned for our economic recovery.”

The program will include up to $53 million to develop and implement a new National Ecosystem Fund to support Black-led business organizations across the country. The fund is intended to help Black business owners and entrepreneurs access funding and capital, mentorship, financial-planning services and business training. Canada’s Regional Development Agencies will deliver this fund and work with selected partner organizations to assist them in implementing their services.

In addition, up to $33.3 million will be dedicated to the new Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund that will provide loans of between $25,000 and $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs. The Government of Canada is also partnering with financial institutions, including RBC, BMO Financial Group, Scotiabank, CIBC, National Bank, TD, Vancity and Alterna Savings, to make up to $128-million available in additional lending support. The loan fund will be available through Black-led business organizations supported through the National Ecosystem Fund.

And, up to $6.5 million will be dedicated to creating and sustaining a new Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which will collect data on the state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify Black entrepreneurs’ barriers to success, as well as opportunities for growth. The hub will be run by Black-led community and business organizations, in partnership with educational institutions.

The government has expressed a commitment to working closely with Black business owners and Black-led organizations across Canada so that the new Black Entrepreneurship Program reflects the realities and needs of Black Canadians.

“Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is unwavering and the new Black Entrepreneurship Program reflects this,” adds Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, Bardish Chagger. “This program was created through collaboration with Black-led organizations, because Black Canadians know what their communities need best. This is another step towards removing the systemic barriers that exist within our society to create a truly inclusive Canada.”

A call for proposals will be launched for Black-led organizations to join and help deliver the National Ecosystem Fund for Black entrepreneurs. More details, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, are expected in the coming weeks.

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