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Prime Minister’s remarks on support for Black business owners

11 September 2020 at 03:40 | 849 views

Prime Minister’s remarks on support for Black entrepreneurs and business owners

September 9, 2020

Toronto, Ontario

Hello everyone.

I’m happy to be here at HXOUSE in Toronto with Minister Ng, Greg Fergus, the Chair of the Parliamentary Black Caucus, and Adam Vaughan, and Gary Anandasangaree.

I also want to thank one of the co-founders of HXOUSE, Ahmed Ismail, for welcoming us today. I know that Abel Tesfaye, known as the Weeknd, and La Mar Taylor are also co-founders of HXOUSE, and wanted to be here but just couldn’t make it, so thanks to them as well.

We’re also joined by members of the local community, and representatives from some of Canada’s largest banks.

Over the last six months as our country faced the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19, we’ve seen that there exists still far too many gaps in our society.

For Black entrepreneurs, this pandemic has highlighted the many inequalities they face.

We need an economic recovery that’s inclusive and equitable for all Canadians.

Earlier today, I talked with some local Black entrepreneurs about what starting a business means to them, and what the last few months have been like.

They told me what it was like to build the company of their dreams, and the importance of giving back to the community.

The small businesses that Black entrepreneurs create are the backbone of our communities.

Just take the story of Thornton and Lucie Blackburn, two prominent Black Canadian entrepreneurs from the early 1800s.

After the Blackburns escaped from slavery, they became successful business owners, starting Toronto’s very first taxi company.

Here in Toronto, at the end of the Underground Railroad, the Blackburns brought a new dream to life.

A dream of building economic freedom through hard work, perseverance, and hope.

A dream that gave them pride in creating something with their own two hands, and contributing to their community and their city.

They achieved that dream, all the while reaching back to help others move forward.

Their legacy speaks to what Black business owners have always done, and still do for their communities.

From the Blackburns to Viola Desmond, Black business owners are at the very centre of their communities.

To Black entrepreneurs: we heard you when you said that investing in the right tools and support create good, sustainable jobs. You’re absolutely right.

An investment in Black excellence is an investment in economic empowerment.

And economic empowerment is an essential part of justice.

It’s justice against a system that has locked out far too many Black entrepreneurs, and denied them the same opportunities as other Canadians.

So today, we’re taking another step forward to reduce barriers and address that.

This morning, I can announce that the Government of Canada, in partnership with Canadian banks, is investing up to nearly $221 million to launch Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program.

The Government of Canada’s share will be up to nearly $93 million over four years as a part of this program.

The Black Entrepreneurship Program will help thousands of Black business owners and entrepreneurs through our economic recovery, and into the months and years ahead.

I’d like to take a moment to thank our partners for working with us to address an issue Black Canadians have faced for far too long.

The Black Entrepreneurship Program will include funding to support three new initiatives – a National Ecosystem Fund, a Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, and a Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.

Let me start with the National Ecosystem Fund.

Black business owners and entrepreneurs often have a hard time getting the right tools and mentorship to succeed.

With this new National Ecosystem Fund, Black entrepreneurs will have access to the financial planning services and business training they need for the months and years to come.

Black entrepreneurs also continue to face systemic barriers when it comes to accessing loans from financial institutions.

That’s what the second part of our program – the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund – will tackle.

With this new fund, Black businesses will be eligible for loans of up to $250,000.

That brings me to the third part of this program – the creation of a new Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.

To build back better, we need the best data possible to ensure future funding is more efficient.

This Hub will identify the barriers standing in the way of Black entrepreneurs, and highlight opportunities for future growth.

To get the right input from communities, the Hub will be run by Black-led business and community organizations, in partnership with universities and colleges.

Moving forward, Statistics Canada will continue to collect disaggregated data to better understand the needs of Black entrepreneurs.

This announcement means a long-term investment in our communities and will help people reach their full potential.

The Black Entrepreneurship Program wouldn’t be possible without the leadership of Black business organizations.

I’d like to thank them for their hard work on building this new program with us.

This funding is another step in supporting the hopes and aspirations of Black Canadians.

And it’s another step towards our commitment to address the systemic racism that affects Black communities.

We know there’s still more work to be done, and we’re committed to doing that work.

In the weeks and months to come, our government will continue to stand with all Canadians through this economic recovery.

We will continue to build a better, more equitable, more inclusive Canada, where everyone has a real and fair chance at success.

Our government understands that our people are our greatest asset.