A positive step forward


A positive step forward

One week after the Trudeau government announced the first ever major Black Entrepreneurship  Program, many of our readers are still asking questions about the how it can  be accessed.

In The Caribbean Camera last week, the Program was, of course, big news, highlighted on  our front page. It was also the subject of  news stories in Canadian mainstream media.

But questions about the Program keep coming and readers can be assured that we will continue to  seek and provide as much information as possible about this major initiative.

The federal funding for the Program will include $33 million towards loans, $6.5 million to collect data on the barriers preventing Black Canadians from succeeding in business, and $53 million for Black business organizations to provide mentorship, financial planning and business training.

In announcing the $221-million Program,  Prime Minister Trudeau said that  the COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the systemic gaps and economic barriers Black Canadians face every day, and that his government wants a pandemic recovery that is “inclusive and equitable for all Canadians.”

A pandemic recovery is certainly what is needed at this time.No doubt about it.

Already, many Black businesses have succumbed to the virus  and others  are on the verge of collapse. and in so many cases plans in the Black community for starting up new businesses have to be put on hold.

The government of Prime Minister Trudeau therefore deserves full marks for launching this particular Program.

And we are pleased to note that  its launching was the response to one of the requests made last June by an open letter from the Parliamentary Black Caucus that was signed by more than one hundred  Members of Parliament and Senators.

Congratulations to the Black Caucus and all the Members of Parliament and  Senators  who supported this important initiative.

Of course, in looking ahead we are well aware that there is a lot of work to  be done to ensure the success of the Program,

And as  Rachel Bendayan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, noted in an interview with The Caribbean Camera earlier this week,,” many of the details surrounding the program are still to be worked out.”

But as she explained, ” this is a good thing  because it allows entrepreneurs themselves to feed information back to the government with respect to developing eligibility criteria for the program.”

And so as the Program develops, we look forward to answers to the many questions which we are receiving.

For example, many readers  want to know more about eligibility for loans.Others want to know whether their particular business would qualify for some sort of assistance through the Program.

Liberal Member of Parliament  Greg Fergus, the chair of the of the Parliamentary Black Caucus,  made it clear that the Program isn’t all that is needed.

But he noted that it will help  Black Canadians be economic actors, community leaders and see “that we are full Canadians and want to participate in this wonderful country that we call home.”

And he warned that ” it  will not in one fell swoop eliminate all systemic discrimination and the consequences .”

But as he correctly noted,  the government has taken a positive step forward.