Trudeau announced $221M Black Entrepreneurship Program today. This is a new three-part initiative meant to support Black Canadian entrepreneurs amid COVID-19 and beyond. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected Black Canadians and put a spotlight on inequality in Canada.
The Black Entrepreneurship Program will focus on providing funding and resources to Black entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized business owners. The initiative includes three programs: a National Ecosystem Fund, Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, and Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.
Up to $221 million is being committed to the program, which the federal government touted as the first of its kind in Canada. The majority of the funding ($128 million) is from seven Canadian financial institutions, with $93 million being invested directly from the federal government over a four-year period.
The new program will include $53 million for Black business organization to help entrepreneurs access funding, mentorship, financial planning and business training. Another $6.5 million will go to collect data on the state of Black entrepreneurship and identify the barriers preventing Black Canadians from succeeding in business. Through the program, Black entrepreneurs will be able to access loans between $25,000 and $250,000.
The launch of the $221 million program came about through work done by a number of Black business organizations across Canada, including the Black Business Professional Association, the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce, and more, as well as the federal Parliamentary Black Caucus, which in June called on all levels of government to take action to reduce systemic racism in Canada.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the call to action, which included recommendations on how to enact change, is “extraordinarily important” to informing his government’s planned work to address systemic racism against Black Canadians. Work that the prime minister vowed to act upon as part of Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy, a commitment he re-stated earlier this year, but has been criticized by other political parties for not moving on fast enough.
Of the government’s $93 million commitment, $53 million is being dedicated to the National Ecosystem Fund, which will be created to help Black business owners and entrepreneurs access funding, mentorship, financial planning services, and business training.
The Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund includes the partnership of financial institutions, including Canada’s Big Five banks as well as Vancity and Alterna Savings. The loan program is set to receive $33.3 million from the federal government, $3.3 million of which will go towards operations. The $128 million from the banks is being made available through the program in “additional loan support.” The fund will provide loans between $25,000 and $250,000.
Up to $6.5 million is being set aside to create the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which will collect data on the state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify barriers to success as well as opportunities for growth. The Hub will be run by Black-led community and business organizations, in partnership with universities and colleges. Up to $1.5 million is being set aside for the Hub’s operation costs.
The Black Entrepreneurship Program mirrors closely to the federal government’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, which includes two funds, as well as a knowledge hub and advisory panel.
More details on how Black Entrepreneurs can access this program will be provided in subsequent article.