News: Black Business Initiative Supports Goals of Federal Black Entrepreneurship Fund

December 21, 2021

By Andy Walker

Interim CEO Rustum Southwell

Interim CEO Rustum Southwell

The founding CEO of the Black Business Initiative in Nova Scotia is a big supporter of the Black Entrepreneurship Fund established by the federal government to help “address long-standing barriers” and support the long-term success of Black entrepreneurs and business owners.

“It’s what we had been doing since we were founded in 1996, making us the oldest Black business development initiative in the country,” Rustum Southwell says. “We feel we have a great deal of expertise to share. We are the granddaddy of all similar programs.”

Southwell, who held the CEO post for 17 years and is now back for an interim stint, says the Black Business Initiative has a long history of working with federal and provincial agencies toward the goal of growing a stronger Black presence in the Nova Scotia business community.

“This program certainly has a lot of potential to grow the Black business community right across the country and certainly here in Nova Scotia,” he says.

The $221 million program includes up to $53 million to develop and implement a new National Ecosystem Fund to support Black-led business organizations across the country. It will help Black business owners and entrepreneurs access funding and capital, mentorship, financial planning services, and business training.

It also contains up to $33.3 million in support through the new Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund that will provide loans of between $25,000 and $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs. Ottawa is also partnering with financial institutions to make up to $128 million available in additional lending support.

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