Minister Ng announces 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Program
June 15, 2023 – Kingston, Ontario
2SLGBTQI+1 entrepreneurs make important contributions to the Canadian economy, yet they continue to face systemic barriers in starting and growing their businesses, with 1 in 4 entrepreneurs having faced discrimination or having lost businesses because of their 2SLGBTQI+ ownership.
To address these barriers and build a more inclusive economy for the over 100,000 2SLGBTQI+-owned and ‑operated businesses in Canada, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development, announced that the Government of Canada is investing $25 million to create the world’s first ever 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Program. The Minister made the announcement at the Global 2SLGBTQI+ Business Summit & Supplier Diversity Forum, held by the CGLCC, Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ Chamber of Commerce.
The 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Program will be administered by the CGLCC and includes three main components: the Business Scale-Up program, the Ecosystem Fund and the Knowledge Hub. Together, these will deliver critical business advice, create resources, provide mentorship and collect the data needed to better understand the needs of 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs and the challenges they face.
The Business Scale-Up program will provide funding to strengthen the capacity and program delivery of the CGLCC, the only national 2SLGBTQI+ business-support organization of its kind. Specifically, it will help implement a national mentorship program, enhance access to corporate procurement opportunities, support 2SLGBTQI+ businesses in becoming export ready, and develop a pilot for delivering loans to 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs. The Ecosystem Fund will provide funding to other organizations across the country, especially in underserved communities, to increase their capacity to support 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs. Lastly, the CGLCC will partner with an academic institution in establishing the Knowledge Hub to address gaps in knowledge and data.
The government co-developed the 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Program, consulting extensively with the 2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurship community across the country to create a program by and for the community. Increasing capacity in the entrepreneurship ecosystem to include under-represented groups was identified as the most pressing concern.
This program marks another major step in advancing the Government of Canada’s commitment to making sure all Canadians have the opportunity to contribute to a stronger, more competitive economy. It builds on the successes of the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) and the Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP), which are helping tens of thousands of under-represented entrepreneurs reach their business goals. It also complements the Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan to create a more equitable Canada for current and future generations.
The 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Program will help close the gaps for under-represented Canadians and build an economy that works for all Canadians.
1 Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, Intersex and “plus,” which is inclusive of people who identify as part of sexual and gender diverse communities and use additional terminologies.
“2SLGBTQI+ entrepreneurs make incredible contributions to our communities and to our economy, employing nearly 500,000 Canadians. The 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Program adds another key building block to the foundation of a more inclusive economy and society. With strategic investments to address systemic barriers, we are creating a program that will deliver the resources, tools and data for more Canadians to succeed both at home and abroad.”
– The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
“Canadian 2SLGBTQI+-owned businesses continue to face unique barriers and challenges that impede their ability to fully contribute to the Canadian economy. This 2SLGBTQI+ Entrepreneurship Program is an important step in addressing these obstacles by providing a richer and deeper understanding of the landscape, by building a strong and sustainable ecosystem of supporting local and regional organizations across the country, and by developing and delivering tools and resources to enable our 2SLGBTQI+ businesses to start, grow and succeed.”
– Darrell Schuurman, CGLCC Co-Founder and CEO
There are more than 100,000 2SLGBTQI+-owned and -operated businesses in Canada. They generate over $22 billion in economic activity and employ over 435,000 Canadians.
The CGLCC, established in 2003, is a national non-profit organization with a vision to drive 2SLGBTQI+ social change through economic empowerment. Its core mission is to contribute to a thriving and inclusive Canadian economy by promoting economic growth and prosperity for 2SLGBTQI+ businesses, in particular through supplier diversity certification, capacity building and development opportunities, mentorship, and global trade opportunities.
Launched on August 28, 2022, the Federal 2SLGBTQI+ Action Plan aims to advance rights and equality for Two-Spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and additional sexually and gender diverse people in Canada.
The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) is a nearly $7-billion investment that includes:
- the Women Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, which is enabling existing women-focused loan programs to provide additional affordable microloans to women entrepreneurs;
- the WES Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative, which seeks to broaden access to funding and build a more inclusive venture capital environment for Canadian women;
- the WES Ecosystem Fund, which is helping remove barriers to the support networks and deliver the resources that women entrepreneurs need to start up, scale up and access new markets; and
- the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which has brought together 10 regional hubs, over 300 organizations and thousands of women entrepreneurs to create a more inclusive and supportive environment to grow women’s entrepreneurship in Canada.
To ensure women have equal access to the benefits and opportunities arising from international investment, Canada is taking an inclusive approach to trade by integrating gender-related provisions in all its free trade agreements. The government has also co-signed the Global Trade and Gender Arrangement.
The Black Entrepreneurship Program is a partnership between the Government of Canada, Black-led business organizations, post-secondary or other accredited educational institutions, and financial institutions. It has three components:
- the $100 million Ecosystem Fund, which has funded 43 not-for-profit organizations across the country that are now delivering mentorship, business training and financial planning services to businesses;
- the $165 million Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, delivered by the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE), which provides loans of up to $250,000 to Black business owners and entrepreneurs; and
- the $5 million Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, which aims to conduct qualitative and quantitative research and collect data on the state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify Black entrepreneurs’ barriers to success as well as opportunities for growth. Carleton University and the Dream Legacy Foundation have partnered to establish the Knowledge Hub.
To further support opportunity and economic growth for Black Canadians, the Government of Canada has launched a procurement pilot program to open bidding opportunities for Black-owned or -operated businesses.
Office of the Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
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