The Canadian government is committed to working closely with Black business owners and Black-led organizations across Canada. What do the Black community need to do to maximize the support available?
The government recently announced a program that will help thousands of Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country especially those in the process of recovering from the crisis occasioned by the Covid 19 virus and those who wish to grow their businesses, provide employment to support government efforts at reducing unemployment. The Prime Minister proposed investments of about $221 million to be managed by Canadian financial institutions. The funds will be made available over a period of four years. While the government will provide about $93 million the financial institutions are expected to argument with the balance 58%. This will mark the launch of Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program.
Ever since the announcement the basic questions from the black entrepreneurs are what is the nature of this support? When will the funds be available and how do the beneficiary begin the application process?
While details, including eligibility criteria and how to apply are still sketchy, we understand that the program 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.
And some quick fact of the program are:
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. All are to await the details, including eligibility criteria and how to apply.
Canada’s Regional Development Agencies will deliver the National Ecosystem Fund, and work with selected partner organizations to assist them in implementing their services.
The Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund will be available through Black-led business organizations supported through the National Ecosystem Fund. Further details on eligibility requirements and how to apply for loans will follow from the Government of Canada. The initial commitments made by financial institutions are subject to final development of the Loan Fund.
A total of up to $3.3 million out of the $33.3 million for the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund and of up to $1.5 million out of the $6.5 million for the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub will be in operating funding.
As part of their work to better understand the barriers faced by and needs of Black entrepreneurs in Canada, Statistics Canada will work to improve disaggregated data collection on Black entrepreneurship.
To support Canadians throughout COVID-19, the Government of Canada introduced the largest relief package in the country’s history, which includes the following major programs for business owners and their employees:
Canada Emergency Business Account (CERB) https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-wage-subsidy.html
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/Finance-and-Investing/covid19-cerca-small-business
Launched in 2019, Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy (Canada’s+Anti-Racism+Strategy) was designed to take immediate steps in combatting racism and discrimination, by demonstrating federal leadership, empowering communities, and building awareness and changing attitudes.
As we wait for implementation guidelines, what the black community needs now is to ensure that their businesses are properly structured, registered, maintain sound financial records and complies with regulatory requirement. Proper books of business should be maintained, required certifications, licenses and qualifications should be in place. There should be strict adherence to taxes and other statutory filings.