The federal government is creating a new national program to help Black Canadian entrepreneurs recover from the COVID-19 crisis and help grow their businesses.
The prime minister announced the $221 million initiative Sept. 9, which will include both private and public funding.
“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,” said Justin Trudeau at a press conference. “That is why 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.”
The government will invest nearly $93 million over the next four years into the program, with the remaining $128 coming from Canadian financial institutions.
It 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 money 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 the National Ecosystem Fund and work with selected partner organizations to assist them in implementing their services. 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.
Up to $33.3 million will be set aside for the new Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, which will provide loans of between $25,000 and $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs.
In addition, up to $6.5 million will go toward creating and sustaining 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.
“Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is unwavering, and the new Black Entrepreneurship Program reflects this,” said Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth. “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.”