Kevin Garcia is the Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Futurpreneur.
I’m excited to announce the launch of Futurpreneur’s Black Entrepreneur Startup Program—funded by RBC and building on our longstanding collaboration with BDC—an initiative designed to focus directly on the needs of young Black entrepreneurs across Canada who are seeking support to launch or acquire their own businesses. Not only does this program represent a new opportunity for emerging Black entrepreneurs, but it also builds on the remarkable work undertaken by Futurpreneur over the last twenty-five years in nurturing and guiding the entrepreneurial ambitions and ideas of diverse young people across Canada.
As Futurpreneur marks its 25th anniversary this year, I couldn’t be prouder to be the Head of Diversity & Inclusion at this organization. Diversity & Inclusion are core values of ours and woven into everything we do. On the Diversity & Inclusion Council, I am joined by eleven team members, most of whom identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour, and over the past year, we have all provided input on ways to tailor our programming to each community’s particular needs and circumstances. Together with our increasingly diverse colleagues, leaders, board members and sponsors, Black council members and others in the organization with lived experience have helped shape this new Black Entrepreneur Startup Program, providing direction on the way in which it will develop, function, and respond to the needs of the young Black entrepreneurs we support.
I recognize that world events in the last two years have placed a spotlight on issues of systemic racism and discrimination in our society and societies around the globe. We are living in a moment of change and reassessment. It is my belief that we are, finally, on the cusp of a genuine realignment that demands equitable treatment and positive opportunity.
It is no coincidence that Futurpreneur is embarking on the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program at this moment. The people who have worked to bring this program to life recognize the need for a resolute commitment matched by a concerted effort and concrete actions. I believe the launch of the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program is an important milestone on the path to meaningful change.
How will this program address systemic barriers faced by Black entrepreneurs?
I know there are skeptics within the young Black community in Canada when it comes to programs aimed at supporting Black-led businesses and Black entrepreneurs. I also recognize that significant challenges and barriers have existed and continue to exist. As someone with lived experience, I know there are many in the Black community who have felt the sting of being treated inequitably too many times and in too many circumstances.
I myself have been denied credit and dismissed for not fitting prescribed criteria when seeking financing and categorized as “too risky” by lenders. But I urge you to consider applying for this program at Futurpreneur. We have created a different, more inclusive experience for talented, motivated and creative individuals who want to start their own businesses and make unique contributions to their communities.
What is the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program?
When I’m asked to describe the program, I explain that it is the first step of a journey—a huge first step.
We’ve customized key components of Futurpreneur’s core Startup Program to reflect aspiring Black entrepreneurs’ needs, identifying ways to provide more inclusive loan financing, ensure national networking opportunities across our community—while building bridges to other communities—and enhance valuable mentor support. And we will do more.
The program does not make pronouncements about what young Black entrepreneurs need. Instead, by basing the program on the input of many people with lived experience, who have provided a clear understanding of the obstacles that young Black entrepreneurs have faced, it acknowledges the need for a new approach and aims to reduce these barriers.
Through this journey, as the program evolves, we will actively look for ways to make it even more equitable. We’ll be creative, and will recalculate and recalibrate along the way to ensure our programs respond to the needs of young Black entrepreneurs, helping them realize their dreams of business ownership.
I’m very proud of what we have done to create this program at Futurpreneur and hope it will help young Black entrepreneurs realize their dreams of establishing and building their businesses. We now have a genuine opportunity to do this together, to acknowledge our shared struggle, and to demonstrate our capabilities and creativity.
Please let us know your thoughts on our initiative and how we can help. Join us in making successful and enduring Black businesses a reality in this moment—starting with yours.
I encourage you to apply today!