The prime minister of Canada Justin Trudeau just announced his plans to roll out a multi-million loan program targeted at helping Black Canadian business owners. He’s also working closely with the Canadian government to end systemic racism. The loan programs have a total of $221 million to give out, and some major players are involved.
The new loan program breaks down into two main components. The first, a $93 million funding from the federal government. The second phase, a $128 million in funding from 8 of Canada’s largest banks. Some of the most notable names partaking in the initiative include BMO Financial Group, National Bank, TD, CIBC, Scotiabank, Alterna Savings, and Vancity.
An additional $53 million dollars is behind the program from the Canadian federal government. These funds are designated towards helping entrepreneurs find sustainable access to mentorship programs, capital, business, training, and financial planning services. Another $6.5 million is going towards collecting data on the current state of Black entrepreneurs in Canada.
What it means
Trudeau made the following statement when asked about the new initiative, “We’ve heard very clearly from the Black community that economic empowerment is an essential step toward breaking down those barriers and creating true success, not just for the Black community, but for our country.”
He continued by saying, “I recognize there’s much more to do on the justice system, much more to do on public safety and working with police and we will have more things to talk about.” President of the Black Business and Professional Organization Nadine Spencer proclaimed that Trudeau’s announcements were a “game changer” for Black entrepreneurs.
In a CBC interview, Spencer stated, “I always say that the biggest challenge Black business owners face is that the owners are Black, systemic racism, that is is the biggest factor when we walk into a bank. There is something different for Black businesses than for mainstream businesses.”
Spencer wasn’t the only influential Black female to speak on the announcement. President of the Canadian Association of Urban Financial Professionals, Meryl Africa also added, “It’s better than what we’ve had in the past. So I think I think it’s a good start and it’s a good way to gauge whether or not it is going to be enough.”
She continued, “Think it all comes down to data. At the end of the day, we want to be able to look at this, you know, three years from now, five years from now — even if the government changes — to know that there’s actual measures being tracked and that we can then hold our government accountable if they’re not being successful in deploying the funding to these businesses. That’s great.”
What to expect
As the world grapples with battles of racism, injustice, and inequality, the recent moves by Justin Trudeau show a promising future for what is to come. However, that doesn’t mean that the announcement wasn’t faced with any opposition, as many political rivals of Trudeau have stated they are waiting to see his plan in action before throwing out any praises.