The historic, first-of-its-kind Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund is helping to open up capital, innovation, and job creation for Black entrepreneurs in Canada.
Black entrepreneurs and Black-owned businesses in Canada face a range of systemic barriers to growth and success, such as negative social attitudes, a lack of networking opportunities, and difficulty in accessing local and international markets. Another major challenge and barrier for Black entrepreneurs is a lack of equity and intergenerational wealth, which can make meeting the criteria for financing from most banks near impossible. Fortunately, a new program — the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, run through the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE) — is working to flip the script by providing black entrepreneurs with the financial tools they need to succeed professionally and contribute to Canada’s economic vitality.
Accelerating wealth creation for Black Canadians
The Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE) is a national and bilingual, Black-led not-for-profit organization focused on providing resources and information to the Black community across Canada to accelerate wealth creation for Canadians of African descent. The organization was created in 2020 to address the needs of Black business owners and entrepreneurs who were severely hurt financially by the pandemic. Through specialized programs, resources, education, and network opportunities, FACE provides support and fosters a business community to promote Black entrepreneurial success.
FACE is a coalition of five prominent Black business and community support organizations from across Canada: the Cote des Neiges Black Community Association, Groupe 3737, the Black Business and Professional Association, the Africa Centre, and the Black Business Initiative. Together, these Black leaders are on a mission to drive generational wealth for Black business owners by empowering them with sustainable economic resources, capacities, and strategic partnerships.
“This is the first time in Canada’s history that black entrepreneurs will have access to a Loan Fund that is designed specifically to meet their needs and to support them in achieving their professional goals. This is a major step to creating wealth for Canadians of African descent,” says Tiffany Callender, Co-Founder and CEO of Face.
An innovative and historical new loan program
FACE’s key mission is to oversee applications for the new Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund (BELF), which began accepting applicants on May 31, 2021. The BELF was created by FACE as a component of the Black Entrepreneurship Program, a partnership between FACE, the federal government, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), and private sector financial institutions.
FACE acknowledges the unique challenges and barriers that Black entrepreneurs and business owners face due to systemic discrimination, inequality, limited access to needed financial support, a weak relationship between Black entrepreneurs and financial institutions, and the underrepresentation of Black-owned businesses in the traditional banking system. The BELF was designed to create a more robust and efficient pathway for access to capital for Black entrepreneurs by using both traditional financial institutions as well as government support. The Fund helps Black business owners with access to capital investments, working capital, and additional business resources for expansion through loans of up to $250,000.
“The BELF is the first loan program that explicitly considers the different systemic barriers that black entrepreneurs are faced with today. This, I believe, will make a world of a difference for black entrepreneurs who want to start a business, grow a business, or hand over the fruits of their labour to their children,” says Callender.
Promoting economic and social empowerment
The BELF funds both start-ups (to a maximum of $50,000) and existing businesses under two programs: the micro loan pilot program and the macro loan program. The former program administers micro loans ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 in Ontario and British Columbia, in partnership with Alterna Savings and Vancity credit unions. The macro loan program, overseen by FACE in partnership with the Government of Canada and the BDC, administers loans ranging from $25,000 to $250,000. To date, FACE has approved over 10 million in loans to businesses coast to coast in diverse industries.
This fund is one of the most innovative lending plans in the country and was designed by Black professionals and financial experts. The BELF is a historic achievement and a significant milestone in opening up capital, innovation, and job creation for Black entrepreneurs and business owners.
Helping Black-owned businesses grow
With the support of the BELF, Canadian Black business owners and entrepreneurs can get the financial support they need to start up, scale up, and grow across Canada and the world. Interested applicants can apply for the micro or macro loan programs by submitting their business plan, financial statement and projections, up-to-date income tax returns and notice of assessment, and personal statement of affairs.
“Black entrepreneurs now have at their disposal a loan fund program that is efficient and easy to apply for. Whether you’re applying for a micro loan or macro loan, we will guide you through the process and provide you with the necessary tools and knowledge you need to succeed professionally,” says Callender.
FACE has other major partners that help further its mission of providing Black Canadians with the necessary resources, knowledge, and confidence to not only operate successfully as Black entrepreneurs but to thrive as a community across Canada. In addition to the BDC, FACE has solicited MNP as a preferred professional services provider for FACE clients, and other large corporations such as Deloitte and Ernst & Young, and software company HubSpot. Good things are in store for the future of FACE and the BELF.
City Lending Centers
It was only possible because we were granted our loan from FACE! I was a branch manager for 11 years and dedicated 20 years of my career to the banking industry. I’ve tried to get funded on several occasions and start this much-needed business for the community. Unfortunately, I would always get declined because there are practices that prevent Black Canadians from getting access to capital. Our goal is to find a way to close the economic gap that exists.
Receiving this loan from FACE made me feel like everything is possible, not only for myself but also for the younger generations of African descent.
After knocking on several doors for financial support, we finally decided to apply to FACE.
Our loan allowed us to acquire a refrigerated truck, purchase additional products for our business, and also retain our four full time employees.
Obtaining this loan will help us ensure the sustainability of our growing business as well as help us position ourselves as pioneers in the community.
GoodsZilla Inc. was approved for a much-needed loan from FACE! Usually, when you are at the startup phase of a business, the reflex is to ask family members for financial support. However, coming to Canada as an immigrant with my family back home, I didn’t know where to get funding for my business.
An opportunity like this has given me the foundation to build this robust product and attract investors. This is how the FACE loan came in and helped us hire great talents and create amazing products.