Updating the $221 million promise to Black businesses and entrepreneurs

Webpage for the Black Entrepreneurship Program launched

Egbert Gaye

The official webpage to support the Liberal government’s $221 million Black Entrepreneurship Program has been launched.
The program, an initiative to assist Black entrepreneurs across Canada, was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in September in the response to repeated calls by advocates for the government to invest in disadvantaged communities.
The online site comes as many Black businesses buckle under the weight of the coronavirus crisis, and are looking to the government to recognize the urgency of their situation.
The four-year BEP, which is being coordinated with several banks and other financial institutions, is made up of three components:

  1. The National Ecosystem Fund will support Black-led business organizations across the country in their capacity to provide funding, mentorship, financial planning, and business training for Black entrepreneurs.
  2. The Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund is a partnership between the Government, Black-led business organizations, and several financial institutions. It will provide loans up to $250,000 to Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country.
  3. The Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub will research Black entrepreneurship in Canada. It will help identify barriers to success and opportunities for growth. The Hub will be led by Black-led community and business organizations in partnership with educational institutions.
    However, for entrepreneurs and businesses, the focus is on accessing loans as quickly as possible.
    But it will still take some time before the money makes it way to their hands.
    According to Rachel Bendayan, parliamentary secretary to Mary Ng Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion, and International Trade, the next step is a call from BEP administrators for concepts to manage and coordinate the $53 million Ecosystem Fund as well as the $ 6.5 million Knowledge Hub Fund.
    That call is expected to be launched in the coming weeks.
    On a more hopeful note, Bendayan, MP for Outremont, says the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund has been steadily gathering steam since the initial announcement as an increasing number of banks and other financial institutions are coming on board to partner with government and community.
    The initial list included RBC, BMO Financial Group, Scotiabank, CIBC, National Bank, TD, Vancity, and Alterna Savings, but Bendayan more institutions are showing interest in the program which increases the possibility of more money becoming available to Black businesses and entrepreneurs.
    Bendayan says the program, comes at the right time to assist thousands of Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country recover from the on-going pandemic and help them grow their businesses.
    It’s also a strong statement by the Liberals amid calls for government action to level the social and economic playing field for minority groups in the country.
    ” The Black Entrepreneurship Program is a first of its kind In Canada – our government recognized that there are systemic barriers that exist and took action.
    Black entrepreneurs and business owners will soon be able to access financing through this program, and federal funding to local organizations supporting Black entrepreneurs will create a strong ecosystem for generations to come.
    I’m looking forward to working with our incredible community in Montréal to make sure our Black-owned businesses receive the support they need as quickly as possible.”
    See the BEP webpage at : https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/150.nsf/eng/home