TORONTO, Ontario (Thursday, March 25, 2021) — A new initiative, designed to address critical barriers that Black entrepreneurs face, when starting, growing and managing their businesses, has been introduced by Canada’s largest banking institution, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).
The outreach program, announced yesterday, will advance RBC’s efforts — against the commitment, the bank announced, last summer — to provide up to $100 million in business loans to Black entrepreneurs, and create pathways to prosperity for young entrepreneurs, over the next five years.
The new funding collaboration, with Futurpreneur — a national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentorship and resources to aspiring business owners, aged 18-39 — is designed to create more inclusive and equitable financing opportunities for emerging, young Black entrepreneurs.
Called the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program, it will support young, Black entrepreneurs in starting their business.
Over a five-year period, RBC will provide up to $40 million in financing, for Futurpreneur to offer small business loans, mentorship and business resources to Black entrepreneurs, for up to two years.
“We recognize that young Black entrepreneurs disproportionally face barriers to success that have nothing to do with the potential of their business idea, notably access to financing and mentorship,” commented Karen Greve Young, Chief Executive Office (CEO) of Futurpreneur, which, since 1996, has helped over 13,000 young Canadian entrepreneurs, spanning every province and territory, to successfully launch their businesses.
“With RBC’s meaningful funding contribution, this new program…..(will) address barriers and amplify the success of hundreds of young Black entrepreneurs,” she added.
The start-up-support program will also provide opportunities for its participants to engage with a national network of Black entrepreneurs and community organizations, at a range of entrepreneurship events.
“The Financial Services industry plays an important role in enabling economic recovery and prosperity, and small businesses are the engine of that growth,” explained Neil McLaughlin, Group Head, Personal and Commercial Banking at RBC. “By providing access to capital, backed by dedicated advice and business services, the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program will help Black entrepreneurs finance, launch and manage their business ideas.
“Working alongside Futurpreneur, we believe this program is an important first step to making Black-owned businesses a meaningful part of Canada’s economic growth and future prosperity.”
Through inclusive financing, mentorship, and community partnerships, the program is aimed at helping young Black entrepreneurs thrive, declared a joint media release, from Futurpreneur and RBC, which is one of the largest banks in the world — based on market capitalization — with 17 million clients in Canada, the U.S. and 34 other countries, and over 86,000 employees.
“By leveraging Futurpreneur’s proven model for starting a successful business, RBC’s funding support of Futurpreneur will catalyze a Black entrepreneurship movement that will inspire a new generation of diverse innovators, who can help drive economic diversity, inclusion, and resiliency across Canada.
“With access to the right networking opportunities, support systems, knowledge and capital, aspiring Black entrepreneurs will be better equipped to realize their ambitions and achieve their full potential,” elaborated the joint release.
The Black Entrepreneur Startup Program initiative is a component of RBC’s Action Plan against Systemic Racism, which the national bank says it formulated, with a goal to create a more equitable future, remove biases and barriers, and expand opportunities for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of colour) clients, colleagues, and communities to prosper.
For further information about eligibility criteria and how to apply for the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program, please visit: futurpreneur.ca/en/besp.