Small Business Month 2022: Celebrating Entrepreneurial Diversity Part 3

Last Updated: October 18, 2022

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Entrepreneurship in 2022 is asking itself important questions that go beyond the traditional adage of “adding seats around the table.” Instead, it asks, what infrastructure do diverse entrepreneurs need to succeed in their small businesses? How do you create that infrastructure? And what magic takes place when you make room to address the needs of entrepreneurs who are part of diverse groups?

The following resources answer those questions. Originating from a plurality of entrepreneurs, small business owners, and creators, they shed light on challenges for entrepreneurs and small business owners from equity-seeking groups, including IBPOC, disabled, and neurodiverse entrepreneurs, and highlight and the ways they’ve used their talents, business acumen, and social savvy to create opportunities within. We’ll take you through the entrepreneurial journey, from beginning your research as an entrepreneur to connecting with your community to taking advantage of the programs and resources that exist to help make your business dream into reality. We hope these voices inspire and strengthen. 

Be sure to check out the other posts in our Small Business Month blog series, and swing on by the curated displays at David Lam Management Research Library, running from October 19 to Oct 26, 2022. Have yourself a prosperous Small Business Month!


Step 3: Finding Finance and Networking Opportunities and Resources

Did you know that: 

Government agencies and business organizations across Canada have taken notice of these facts; new funding pathways, accelerator programs, and repositories of knowledge specifically geared toward helping equity-seeking entrepreneurs translate their stories and skills to establishing and growing a businesses have proliferated in recent years. Some of these are run by entrepreneurs from the same communities they seek to reach, introducing representation to the scene along with a lived experience that enhances their teaching and mentoring. We’ve included a non-exhaustive list of programs and resources across Canada, as well as some market research guides that strive to include cultural context and include information on everything from business planning to branding. 


Funding Opportunities 

Black Entrepreneurship Loan FundThe Black Entrepreneurship Loan fund is a partnership between the Government of Canada, Black-led business organizations across the country, the Business Development Bank of Canada, and other financial institutions. It provides up to $250,000 to Black business owners and entrepreneurs; visit the Federation of African Canadian Economics to apply. 

Aboriginal Entrepreneurship ProgramThe AEP funds a broad range of entrepreneurial pursuits and aims to build capacity, reduce barriers and increase access to capital, by forging partnerships that will increase economic opportunities for First Nations, Inuit and Métis people. Its Access to Business Opportunities stream provides up to $500,000 to eligible recipients, and through this promotes a culture of entrepreneurship and enhances the capacity of Indigenous businesses. 

Black Innovation FundThe Black Innovation Fund’s overarching organization, BKR Capital, was founded in 2021 with a mission to provide substantial capital to 18 Black-led businesses in the technology space over a 4-year period. Visit their website to find out more about the hard-working, innovative entrepreneurs they fund and find out whether your business is a match. 

Strategic Partnerships Initiative | The Strategic Partnerships Initiative helps Indigenous communities gain economic opportunity and participate in building their communities simultaneously, by providing funding for clean energy projects in rural, Indigenous, and remote communities across Canada. $300 million in funding is available until 2027.


Startup and Accelerator Programs

Futurpreneur’s Black Entrepreneurship Startup Program | The Black Entrepreneurship Startup Program addresses the specific barriers faced by Black entrepreneurs in Canada by providing specialized business support, from startup loan financing to networking opportunities to up to 2 years of 1-on-1 mentoring with a Black entrepreneur. This program focuses on your success through connections and the application of lived experience.

First Peoples Entrepreneurship Accelerator Program | A collaboration between SFU and the RBC Foundation, the FPEA is here to support entrepreneurship in Indigenous communities. It envisions a decolonized economy created by and for Indigenous peoples, in which deep relationships are of tantamount importance. Meet their alumni and cohorts and learn more about the Fireweed Fellowship, the first national Indigenous accelerator in Canada.


Microcredentials and Education

Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub | Still in its early days, the BEKH, hosted by Carleton, will soon provide a wealth of resources for Black entrepreneurs addressing general business progression and overcoming the challenges that Black Canadians face in entrepreneurship.

University of Northern British Columbia’s Indigenous Entrepreneurship Micro-Credential | UNBC’s fully funded Indigenous Entrepreneurship Microcredential introduces aspiring Indigenous, First Nations, and Metís entrepreneurs to the business planning process, market research, financial topics, and human resources management through three modules, each created with an Indigenous lens.

Ch’nook Indigenous Business Education | UBC’s comprehensive Ch’nook Indigenous Business Education program integrates Indigenous culture, identites, values, and ways of knowing into business education. It consists of the Aboriginal Management Program, geared toward individuals managing programs and projects within their councils, and the Ch’nook Scholars Program, which works to develop leadership skills and business knowledge. Ch’nook also runs one-off free classes for participants and alumni; they are currently hosting the Conflict Resolution for Leaders course. 

Women’s Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub | The WEKH is a trove of data, resources, and reports concerning everything about the state of women in entrepreneurship- demographics, challenges, and opportunities alike. To start your work, check out their report on the State of Women’s Entrepreneurship in Canada 2022 and browse their statistics on women’s entrepreneurship

Newcomers’ Knowledge Hub | The NEH envisions a world in which each individual and group has the capacity to make contributions to their chosen home. In keeping with that vision, they provide not only free pre-incubation training and mentorship for participants, but also wraparound services such as childcare and language classes.


Community Organizations

Toronto Indigenous Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship | The ICIE is a space designed to give the Indigenous community an opportunity to explore their entrepreneurial aspirations by providing space, business programming, advisory services, mentorship supports, shared co-workspace, community event space and connections to business networks.

WeBC | Run by women and for women, WeBC supports every stage of your entrepreneurship journey. They offer financing, mentoring, skills development, and advisory services for women across British Columbia.

Indigenous Tourism BC | Indigenous Tourism BC provides training and a platform for Indigenous individuals looking to share their love of their land and their deep knowledge of place with others through entrepreneurship. It supports a vision in which the tourism economy is led by those who know the land best as its original hosts. Check out their workshops for developing land- and culture-based businesses or their destination development services.


Market Research Guides 

University of Toronto Indigenous Entrepreneurship Guide | This page on Indigenous Entrepreneurship, hosted by the University of Toronto, provides resources for Indigenous individuals looking to start businesses in the province of Ontario, including development workshops and access to the Indigenous Career Coordinators at the First Nations House at UofT.

University of New Brunswick Resources for Indigenous Entrepreneurs Guide | This comprehensive guide from UNB, located on the traditional, ancestral, and forcibly taken lands of the Mik’maw people, collects organizations catering to Indigenous entrepreneurs as well as reports, statistics, financial information and considerations, Indigenous accelerators, and Indigenous-focused resources and packages for starting a business.


The UBC Vancouver campus is situated within the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) and the UBC Okanagan campus is situated within the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Syilx Okanagan Nation Territory.

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