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Trudeau announces millions for first 'Black Entrepreneurship Program'

Trudeau announces millions for first 'Black Entrepreneurship Program'
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Canadian Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauTrudeau: Canada preparing for potential 'disruptions' after US election Trump's COVID 'October surprise' might make him a better candidate — and person 'Get well' messages pour in from foreign capitals after Trump positive coronavirus test MORE announced that his country will be launching an initiative known as the Black Entrepreneurship Program, the first effort of its kind in the nation, to help support Black business owners and entrepreneurs while also building upon the country’s goal to address systemic racism.

In an announcement explaining the move on Wednesday, Trudeau said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which government health data shows has resulted in more than 133,700 cases in the nation and more than 9,000 deaths, has highlighted “inequalities that disproportionately hurt Black Canadians” and “underscored the need to restart our economy in a way that allows all Canadians an equal chance to succeed.” 

“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,” Trudeau said. “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.”

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Trudeau’s office said in the statement that the prime minister announced “investments of up to nearly $221 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 the new effort.

A bulk of the money will go toward creating a “National Ecosystem Fund” to help Black business owners and entrepreneurs gain access to capital, funding and business training.

Up to roughly $33 million will also be directed to a fund that will provide Black business owners and entrepreneurs with "loans of between $25,000 and $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs," according to the announcement.

Trudeau’s office also said the Canadian government will be teaming up with financial institutions such as National Bank and TD “to make up to $128 million available in additional lending support.”

Bardish Chagger, who was appointed minister of diversity and inclusion and youth by Trudeau last year, said in a statement that the new program “was created through collaboration with Black-led organizations” and called the initiative “another step towards removing the systemic barriers that exist within our society to create a truly inclusive Canada.” 

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The announcement comes days after a new study released by the African Canadian Civic Engagement Council and Innovative Research Group found that Black Canadians were disproportionately impacted by the pandemic compared with other groups when it comes to health and economic impacts. 

The COVID Tracking Project, which has been gathering racial data about the pandemic in the United States, found that Black people are also dying from the novel coronavirus at more than double the rate of white people in the country.

A study released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York also found last month that Black-owned small businesses have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic compared with others in the U.S.