Canadian co-operatives eligible for Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund

Two credit unions are also partnering with the government to provide microloans to businesses and entrepreneurs

The Government of Canada has launched a Black Entrepreneurship Program to address systemic barriers in the business world.

The programme is backed by an investment of up to CA$350.8m over four years, bringing together the government, black-led business organisations and financial institutions.

As part of this, the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund will provide loans up to $250,000 to black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country, including co-operatives.

The loan fund is a $291.3m investment, comprising around $33.3m from the federal government, $130m from BDC, and $128m joint from the Royal Bank of Canada, BMO Financial Group, Scotiabank, CIBC, the National Bank of Canada, TD Bank, Vancity Credit Union and Alterna Savings.  

Another pilot microloan programme will provide microloans between $10,000 and $25,000 for Black entrepreneurs and business owners in British Columbia and Ontario. The plot is delivered by the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE) in partnership with credit unions Vancity and Alterna Savings. The initiative aims to tackle a critical gap in the marketplace for black businesses that need smaller financial support to start up and grow. Other financial institutions are encouraged to join the pilot as partners.

To be eligible, businesses must be majority owned by a black Canadian and may include start-ups and existing for-profit small businesses in Canada, including sole proprietorships, social enterprises, partnerships or co-operatives. They must also have a business number, a business plan, and financial statements or projects for start-ups.

Mary Ng, minister of small business, export promotion and international trade, said: “The opening of the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund is a historic achievement to support black business owners and entrepreneurs so they can start up, scale up and grow across Canada and around the world. As a critical piece of Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program, the loan fund helps reduce barriers black business owners and entrepreneurs face in accessing financing. Our government is proud to work with FACE and other black community leaders to continue to address systemic racism against black Canadians.”

Christine Bergeron, president and CEO at the Vancity credit union said: “Serving Canadians as a financial institution is a privilege, and one that entails a great deal of social responsibility. Entrepreneurship can offer great mobility and prosperity, but systemic inequality has meant that this opportunity is not equally available to all Canadians.

“This programme is an important step in addressing systemic racism faced by black business owners and entrepreneurs, and Vancity is proud to work with FACE and looks forward to supporting black entrepreneurs with much-needed microloans.”

Robert Paterson, president and CEO, Alterna Savings, said: “Alterna Savings is proud to partner on the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, and we are committed to joining with our peers to change the experience for the black community when it comes to accessing capital and building a business. At Alterna, we have a deep understanding of community loan funds through our 20 years leading our Community Microfinance Program, and credit unions have a long history in Canada of supporting underserved entrepreneurs, helping them become economically and socially empowered.”

Tiffany Callender, CEO of FACE, added: “It is an important day for Canadian entrepreneurs of African descent. Starting today, thanks to support from the government of Canada and different financial institutions, the true value of black entrepreneurship is finally being recognised. We are optimistic about the future of our entrepreneurs, and we are eager to accompany them as they achieve their business goals. This is a historic opportunity to become a sustainable part of the Canadian economic fabric, and we know that Black entrepreneurs are up to the task.”

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