• Entrepreneurship

Celebrating the 2nd Anniversary of the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program

Futurpreneur | March 24, 2023

Two years ago, Futurpreneur announced a new funding collaboration with Royal Bank of Canada to deliver the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program (BESP), building on its longstanding partnership with Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). This initiative was launched to provide access to capital, mentorship, resources, and networking opportunities to help aspiring Black entrepreneurs across the country. As we celebrate the 2nd anniversary of the BESP, we are proudly reflecting on its incredible impact on the community and looking ahead towards the future.

Over $11M Provided in Capital Alongside 1:1 Mentorship

In the first two years of launch, the BESP has made a significant difference in addressing the barriers that many young, Black entrepreneurs face when accessing capital and other crucial business resources within the Canadian economic landscape. We have proudly disbursed over $11 million in collateral-free business loans, while supporting more than 275 Black-led businesses and matched them with a mentor to help them launch their startup journey.

According to the 2022 State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada report, Black women entrepreneurs still encounter numerous obstacles, despite their impressive skills and experience. These challenges arise from the conscious and unconscious biases deeply rooted in institutions and organizations designed to support entrepreneurs, which disproportionately affect Black women1.

As we celebrate our 2nd anniversary, we’re also proud to share that 51% of the businesses we’ve supported through the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program are led by women. By fostering an inclusive and diverse entrepreneurial environment, we remain committed to empowering Black entrepreneurs and helping them thrive in their businesses.

Honouring Black Entrepreneurs and Inspiring the Next Generation 

In February, we hosted an event to celebrate the achievements of Black entrepreneurs. The evening was dedicated to “Honouring Black Entrepreneurs and Inspiring the Next Generation”, and we welcomed a full house to our national office in Toronto. We provided attendees with a unique opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals and learn from industry experts.

The event effectively showcased the significant impact of the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program in empowering Black entrepreneurs nationwide. It also served as a fitting prelude to our 2nd anniversary celebrations.

Many young entrepreneurs came in from out of town to join us and we are deeply grateful for the overwhelming response from the community both in-person and on social media – it was a night to remember!

Raising the Visibility of Black Entrepreneurs 

Throughout February, we also dedicated Futurpreneur’s communication platforms to celebrating Black History Month and highlighting successful young Black entrepreneurs through the video series “A Day in the Life of a Black Entrepreneur” featuring four amazing Futurpreneur-supported business owners across Canada.

Adesola Ogunsakin of The Retro Bag Canada, London, Ontario

Meet Adesola Ogunsakin, who after completing her medical degree, took a giant leap of faith and launched her brand online. Pursuing her passion for fashion, the entrepreneur founded The Retro Bag Canada in 2019. Today, her brick-and-mortar store shines in one of the biggest shopping malls in London, Ontario.

Alexandra Nerette of Nerette Notaires, Saint-Lambert, Québec

Meet Alexandra Nerette of Nerette Notaires, who takes us on a journey through her daily routine and shares how she considers Quebec, a place where everyone can create their own path and become successful.

Kudzaishe Rodney Tembo of East Coast Rec Rides, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

Meet Kudzaishe Rodney Tembo, passionate entrepreneur, founder of East Coast Rec Rides and an active contributor to Nova Scotia’s tourism industry. Watch him as he highlights the importance of having inspirational Black leaders to support the next generation of Black business owners.

Arlene Ambrose of Arlene Ambrose Curated Health, Edmonton, Alberta

Meet Arlene Ambrose of Arlene Ambrose Curated Health and learn how you can take your business to the next level by “taking a leap of faith”. Watch as she shares why mentorship is your most important asset as an aspiring entrepreneur.

Through the BESP, we are committed to sharing the experiences of young entrepreneurs year-round with initiatives such as our video series, as well as our podcast, “Startup + Prosper” plus many more to follow.

Building a Better Future for Black Entrepreneurs

As we reflect on the past two years and celebrate the success of the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program, funded by RBC with additional loan support from BDC, we remain committed to empowering Black entrepreneurs across Canada. We recognize that there is still much work to be done to address systemic barriers and support Black entrepreneurs, particularly Black women entrepreneurs.

Supporting Black entrepreneurs is not only a matter of equity, but it is also imperative for the Canadian economy. By ensuring that Black entrepreneurs have access to the capital, mentorship, and resources they need to succeed, we can build a more prosperous and inclusive future for all entrepreneurs across the country.

We would like to extend our gratitude to all our partners and supporters who have contributed to the success of the program, especially RBC and BDC. We look forward to continuing this vital work and building a brighter future for Black entrepreneurs in Canada.

1 Cukier, W., Mo, G. Y., Chavoushi, Z. H., Borova, B., Osten, V. (2022). The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada 2022. Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.