When Black Canadian women seek business financing

When Black Canadian women seek business financing, they find out how Canada, the Canadian government, and the Canadian banking system really feel about Black women.

In a previous article, I shared that Black entrepreneurs receive approximately 1% of venture capital. When you calculate the amount given to Black women, the amount comes out to almost 0%.

I did not want to write this new article today, but I just returned from my bank. I have to write it because I see a trend that can not be ignored.

My language learning company has always been bootstrapped. A few times, I did try to get funding to complete my curriculum. This is a list of events that have taken place each time I tried to get financing for my business.

2017 Wage Subsidy Application

I was told that my application was rejected because my business is not of any value to the community.

The reason why this was odd: Canada is a bilingual country with two official languages, English and French. I have a language learning company that teaches people how to speak and practice French. Many Canadians also need French because they are trying to get a bilingual job. New immigrants that move to a French-speaking area need French to integrate into Canadian Society. How is my business of no value to the community?

2019 Application for the women entrepreneur Fund

I was told that my application was rejected because I did not fill out one part of the application correctly.

The reason why this was odd: The application was a lengthy process that went on for several months. Why make someone wait for nearly 1/2 a year wondering if they’ve been accepted then tell them months later that they didn’t cross a “t”. Why not tell them right away? Also, why not tell them which “t” they didn’t cross?

2020 Application for a Bank Grant

I was told that I was disqualified because my company earns money from a podcast hosting company that is American (instead of Canadian).

The reason why that was odd: In September of 2019, my company celebrated a milestone by briefly having the number one Beginner French Podcast in search on Spotify. It’s a shame that we have to be punished for succeeding.

2020 Application for a CEBA COVID loan

I was told that my business expenses were not eligible. My business expenses were staff wages, software licenses needed to produce the product, and leasing fees.

So that’s what happened the four times I tried to get some help for my business. The last one hit me really hard. My website has had a temporarily down (not accepting new customers sign) since March of 2020, and this was the ray of hope I was waiting for. It happened on Monday, August 31st. I spent a good portion of the next few days seriously contemplating moving back to Jamaica. I don’t know how I feel about my place in this country right now.

However, the real reason I am writing this article is because of what happened about two hours ago at my bank. I lost my bank card. I went in to replace it and decided to talk to the teller about my CEBA loan. I asked her if she could think of any reason why they called my staffing expenses ineligible. She wasn’t sure.

Then we got on the topic of my business. I told her that we help people to learn languages and practice foreign language conversations through interactive videos. Then she told me that there was this great company online that was hiring people to teach English that I should check out. I said to her, “But I want to have my own company.” She talked to me some more about the company hiring English teachers and how she found out about them through her daughter. She also mentioned that they pay really well.

The reason why this was odd is what happened after I left the bank.

After I left the bank, I had a Eureka moment and a flashback all at the same time.

My mother is a retired registered nurse. She is also entrepreneurial. Many years ago, she had a side business selling nursing uniforms. One day she decided she wanted to open a store. She went to the mall and went to the leasing office and asked them about opening a store. The leasing manager proceeded to provide my mother with a ton of information about kiosks. He explained in great detail how to rent a kiosk. Meanwhile, my mother is thinking, “I don’t want a kiosk. I want a store. I told him I wanted to rent a store. Why is he talking to me about kiosks?”

But the leasing manager couldn’t wrap his mind around a black woman having a store in the mall, so he kept talking to her about kiosks.

Fast forward to the next generation, and her daughter goes into the bank to talk about running a language learning company, and the teller starts telling her about a great place where she can teach English online.

But is it just me and my mother? 

No. It’s not.

According to Amoye Henry, author of “The horrifying truth about being a black woman founder in Canada,” the situation is quite stark. This is a nationwide problem.

So what did I learn from my little trip to the bank today? 

Well, I’m really glad that I lost my bank card because it was the catalyst for me to find out what I found out today. 

This is what I discovered today.

No one in Canada is expecting a black woman to build a large scale business operation.

It’s not just me. It’s not just my mother before me. It’s not only the Canadian Black Female founders Amoye Henry is researching as we speak.

It’s a systemic problem that will not see a black female as the leader of a large organization.

The question is, what do I intend to do now?

The solution for me and other black women who are entrepreneurs is to continue to push forward. The answer is to support one another by buying from one another, implementing grassroots efforts, and promoting one another.

The most pressing current need is to invest in one another. When one gets ahead, go back and pull the other along Tubman Style. Until Government agencies, banks and investors can see Black Canadian women as leaders and founders, that is all we can do.

Carol Barrett

September 4th, 2020

 

ARTICLE UPDATE

I think that it is very important to give credit where credit is due.

I wrote this article on September 4th. Today, September 9th, the Canadian government announced 221 Million in Funding specifically for Black Entrepreneurs. This is wonderful news.  Thank you.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/politics/trudeau-announces-cash-for-loans-support-to-black-canadian-entrepreneurs-1.5097852

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