Black Entrepreneurship Program Launched

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accounces the Black Entrepreneurship Program at HXOUSE in Toronto. Pics: Trudeau/Twitter

TORONTO: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday announced investments of up to nearly $221 million in partnership with Canadian financial institutions – including up to nearly $93 million from the Government of Canada over the next four years – to launch Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program.

This program will help thousands of Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country recover from this crisis and grow their businesses. He made the announcement at HXOUSE, a Toronto-based think tank.

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. It will help Black business owners and entrepreneurs access funding and capital, mentorship, financial planning services, and business training.

• up to $33.3 million in support through 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.

• up to $6.5 million to create and sustain a new Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub that 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 is committed 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.

The new program builds on the Government of Canada’s work to address systemic racism against Black Canadians. This includes taking steps to advance Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, justice reforms, modern policing structures and standards, and enhanced local
community supports for young Black Canadians.

The Government of Canada will continue to support Black entrepreneurs and create opportunities for Black-owned businesses so that they can recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19 and grow in the months and years to come.

Trudeau said: “The pandemic has shone a light on the inequalities that disproportionately hurt Black Canadians, and has underscored the need to restart our economy in a way that allows all Canadians an equal chance to succeed. That is why today – thanks in part to the leadership, advocacy, and expertise of Black business owners and Black-led organizations – we are 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.”

Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade, added: “For too long, Black entrepreneurs and business owners have faced systemic barriers to their success, and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on them. With Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program, our government is taking real action to support Black entrepreneurs recovering from COVID-19, and empower them to start-up,
innovate, grow, and succeed. We will continue to do whatever it takes to support all small business owners and entrepreneurs across the country.”

Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, said: “Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is unwavering, and the new Black Entrepreneurship Program reflects this. 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.”

The Government of Canada will launch a call for proposals 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, will follow in the coming weeks. Canada’s Regional Development Agencies will deliver the National Ecosystem Fund.

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