Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke Wednesday at Hxouse in Toronto, the office of the organization founded by The Weeknd and his longtime associates La Mar Taylor and Ahmed Ismail, to announce a major investment in a new national program to help Black Canadians get funding and business loans with national banks.
Trudeau announced investments of up to $220.9 million in partnership with Canadian financial institutions — including up to nearly $93 million from the Government of Canada over the next four years — to launch Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program. This program will help thousands of Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country recover from this crisis and grow their businesses. The prime minister thanked The Weeknd, Taylor and Ismail in his opening remarks.
According to the announcement, the program will 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 Canada, 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.
“The pandemic has shone a light on the inequalities that disproportionately hurt Black Canadians, and has underscored the need to restart our economy in a way that allows all Canadians an equal chance to succeed,” Trudeau said. “That is why today – thanks in part to the leadership, advocacy, and expertise of Black business owners and Black-led organizations – we are announcing Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program. As we move forward, this program will help support Black entrepreneurs and create new opportunities for Black-owned businesses, so they are well-positioned for our economic recovery.”
Last month, Hxouse announced that TD Bank Group has become a founding sponsor of its leadership and entrepreneurial development initiative, Black Hxouse. The initiative aims to empower BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color) individuals with mentorship, tools, learning and networking opportunities, according to the announcement.
In a statement, the three said, “We started Hxouse because we believed that the system was broken. Lack of opportunity and lack of clear economic pathways remain the outcomes of a system that makes assumptions about people based on the color of their skin and not their merit. Today is proof that is change happening. Seeing first-hand BIPOC voices resonate with Prime Minister and his Cabinet to take action is monumental and is the exact reason we started our organization.
“We are proud as Canadians that our country is moving past talking about systemic issues in our community to directly investing in them. This will become a model that more countries and corporations should adopt because the only way out of this recession is investing in new ideas.”
More from Variety
Best of Variety
Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.