Support for Black Entrepreneurs

By: The Hon. Amina Gerba

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Hon. Amina Gerba: Colleagues, I knew early on, after arriving in Canada back in 1986, that entrepreneurship would be my path forward. Like many newcomers, however, I was soon forced to confront the hurdles involved in negotiating my way through an unfamiliar system.

I remember the difficulties I encountered in getting my first credit card and how many times my applications were turned down for no apparent reason. Later I found out it was because my social insurance number started with “9,” which meant that I was considered a visitor.

Without a credit card, I had no credit history. This put me in the middle of a vicious circle that was hard to break. On top of that, I didn’t know that once I had a credit history, I had to take care of it to get a better credit rating.

I also remember a time when my management skills were called into question. A potential lender once asked me, “Ms. Gerba, have you ever managed this much money before?”

These systemic barriers are sometimes compounded by discrimination. For example, according to a Canada-wide survey commissioned in 2021 by Senator Colin Deacon and the African Canadian Senate group, 76% of Black entrepreneurs surveyed said that their skin colour was a barrier to business success in Canada, and only 19% said they trusted their financial institutions to do what was best for them or their community.

This reality prompted me and our esteemed colleague Senator Deacon to begin a study last summer on initiatives that support Black entrepreneurs, the results of which we released in late February.

Colleagues, I invite you to read this study, which is available on our respective networks. It makes 10 recommendations, and it illustrates that bold, decisive action is needed to ensure that Black entrepreneurs have the same opportunities as others to prosper and succeed in our society.

Thank you.

Some Hon. Senators: Hear, hear.


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