• Stephen Lecce, MPP

Ontario Supporting Young Black Entrepreneurs

February 24, 2021

The Ontario government is investing $1.2 million over three years to help young Black entrepreneurs and Black-owned tech start-ups access the resources and tools they need to succeed in the province's changing economy. The funding will be provided through Ryerson University DMZ's Black Innovation Programs, which support Black-led businesses by connecting them with customers, capital, experts and a community of entrepreneurs and influencers. "Our government is supporting the Black Innovation Programs because they recognize great ideas, remove barriers, and help businesses grow and flourish," said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. "By strengthening Black communities and businesses and creating new opportunities for aspiring Black entrepreneurs we are building a fairer, more diverse and more inclusive economy." Research shows entrepreneurship presents an important and growing opportunity for the economic security of youth, yet Black entrepreneurs face systemic and complex barriers when starting and growing a business. Although approximately 3.5% of Canada's population identifies as Black, a 2015 Black in Canada survey found only 2,000 Black-owned businesses of significant scale. Black founders receive disproportionately less venture capital and grant funding, and Black Canadians have among the lowest participation rates in tech occupations. In 2019, the Brookfield Institute report Who Are Canada's Tech Workers? discovered that only 2.6% of tech workers in Canada were Black. The Black Innovation Programs, now in their second year, support Black entrepreneurs and Black-owned tech start-ups by providing them with resources to achieve success, including skills development workshops, sales and marketing training, mentorships, and dedicated workspaces. The program also leverages industry partnerships to help businesses access advice from industry experts on how to attract investors, expand revenue growth and market their product to wider audiences. "At Ryerson Un