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From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

What is the program?

The Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP) is a partnership between the Government of Canada, Black-led business organizations, post-secondary or other accredited educational institutions and financial institutions. With an investment of up to $221 million over four years, it will help Black Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs grow their businesses and succeed now and into the future.

I'm a Black entrepreneur who needs help for my business. How can this program help me?

BEP helps Black entrepreneurs in three ways:

  1. By providing funding, through the Ecosystem Fund, to not-for-profit Black-led organizations to develop new services or expand those they already offer such as mentorship, networking, financial planning, and business training for Black entrepreneurs. These organizations will be selected by the Government of Canada's Regional Development Agencies following an open Call for Concepts. Once the successful projects are funded, you will find support services through an organization in your area, or through a regional or national delivery partner.
  2. The BEP Loan Fund will be available to Black entrepreneurs across the country in the new year. This fund is a partnership between the Government, Black-led business organizations, and several financial institutions. It will provide loans up to $250,000 to Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country.
  3. Through funding to a partnership between a Black community organization (or consortium of Black community organizations) and a post-secondary or other accredited educational institution in Canada, that will conduct research to better understand the state of Black Entrepreneurship in Canada.

Who can apply to the Ecosystem Fund?

Not-for-profit, Black-led organizations can submit an application to the Ecosystem Fund. Based on consultation with Black business support organizations, for the purposes of the BEP, Black-led organizations are defined as those that meet the following criteria:

  • leadership positions (Directors, Founders, etc.) that are primarily occupied by people who self-identify as Black (minimum two-thirds of positions);
  • the governance structure (volunteer committee, advisory board, eldership circle, etc.) that is primarily composed of people who self-identify as Black (minimum two-thirds of positions); and
  • their mandate, activities and outcomes are focused on supporting members of Black communities.

Not-for-profit organizations are organizations such as, but not limited to:

  • Business and entrepreneur support organizations;
  • Innovation hubs;
  • Incubators/Accelerators;
  • Organizations that support social enterprises or cooperatives.

How can I apply for the Ecosystem Fund?

The full application guide for the Ecosystem Fund details all the eligibility and application requirements, and a checklist for applicants. Applications for concepts are to be submitted online by 2:00 p.m. PST, December 21, 2020. Applications will be receive an automated acknowledgement.

Can I apply for the Knowledge Hub?

Eligible applicants are a partnership between a not-for-profit Black-led organization and a provincially/territorially recognized post-secondary academic institution or research institute.

For the purposes of the Knowledge Hub application, Black-led organizations must be not for profit and are defined as organizations which have:

  • leadership positions (Directors, Founders, etc.) primarily occupied by people who self-identify as Black (minimum two-thirds);
  • governance structure (volunteer committee, advisory board, eldership circle, etc.) primarily composed of people who self-identify as Black (minimum two-thirds);
  • a mandate, activities and outcomes which are focused on supporting members of Black communities.

The academic institution must be able to demonstrate:

  • the capacity to conduct large-scale quantitative and qualitative research projects;
  • linkages to the entrepreneurship ecosystem and the Black Canadian community; and
  • the ability to safely collect and anonymize statistics.

How can I apply for the Knowledge Hub?

  • The full application guide for the Knowledge Hub details all the eligibility and application requirements, and a checklist for applicants. Applications are to be submitted online by 2:00 p.m. PST, January 18, 2021. Applications will receive an automated acknowledgment.

What is a call for concepts, and what happens to my application after it is submitted?

A call for concepts is a more flexible approach than a call for proposals. This is a way for organizations to tell the Government of Canada, which business supports and services are most needed to strengthen the Black Entrepreneurship Ecosystem. It is how ideas that have the potential for development into a full project will be identified.

A concept is a brief summary of a project's proposed activities. It should provide an overview of the project and the strengths of your proposed approach. Only selected concepts will be invited to the next stage of full project development by the appropriate Regional Development Agency. The selected applicants will be required to submit additional project information to the RDAs at this stage to further develop their concept. Unsuccessful applicants will be notified in writing if their concept will not be considered further.

When will the Loan Fund be available and how can I apply?

The Prime Minister announced the new Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund that will provide loans of up to $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, Vancity, and Alterna Savings, to make up to $128 million available in additional lending support. More details will be available on where and how to apply once this component of the Black Entrepreneurship Program is available.

What is the difference between the Ecosystem Fund and the Knowledge Hub? Can my organization apply for both?

The Ecosystem Fund will provide support for Black-led organizations to develop new services or expand those they already offer such as mentorship, networking, financial planning, and business training for Black entrepreneurs. Many organizations will receive funding under the ecosystem stream.

In contrast, the Knowledge Hub will fund large-scale qualitative and quantitative research on Black entrepreneurship through a partnership between a Black-led community organization (or consortium of Black community organizations) and a post-secondary or other accredited educational institution in Canada. Only one consortium will be funded under the Knowledge Hub stream.

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