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EMPOWERING LGBTQ YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS

The CGLCC has announced an LGBTQ Youth Entrepreneur Program in partnership with the Province of Ontario
By Al Ramsay

 

October is Small Business Month across Canada and it’s a good reminder that small businesses are the backbone of most economies—and Canada is no different. In fact, the most recent statistics, from a 2016 report by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada–Small Business Branch, support this fact:

 

There were 1.17 million employer businesses in Canada at the end of 2015. Of these, 1.14 million (97.9 per cent) were small businesses, 21,415 (1.8 per cent) were medium-sized businesses and 2,933 (0.3 per cent) were large businesses. Small businesses employed more than 8.2 million individuals in Canada, or 70.5 per cent of the total private labour force.

 

Clearly, we need to continue to encourage, promote and invest in our entrepreneurs and in particular our young entrepreneurs. Therefore, as a board member of the Canadian Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (CGLCC), I was excited to be at the LGBT Summit of the Americas in Toronto this year when Darrell Schuurman, CGLCC’s CEO, announced the CGLCC LGBTQ Youth Entrepreneur Program in partnership with the Province of Ontario through the Ontario150 program, and in collaboration with the Ontario Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and partners across the province (TD is a founding partner).

 

About the program
The objective of the program is to empower, support and mentor LGBTQ Youth Entrepreneurs (18-39 years old) in Ontario, by providing them with financial support and tailored guidance to help them establish or grow their own businesses. Five qualified applicants per year will be selected for this program. Applicants will be screened to ensure they meet various criteria, including commitment level to start a business or having started a business that is in the ‘infancy’ or ‘start-up’ stage.

 

The CGLCC will leverage existing programs supporting new entrepreneurs; however, this program will be different in that it will assist LGBTQ entrepreneurs, who will be mentored specifically by LGBTQ mentors and supported by the CGLCC.

 

Successful applicants will receive a scholarship or grant to enable them to participate in the program and commence a business operation. Participants will receive 50 per cent of the scholarship or grant at the commencement of the program and 50 per cent at the successful completion of the program. In addition, successful applicants will receive a free one-year membership to the CGLCC for ongoing support.

 

“LGBTQ youth are at a high risk of facing discrimination, rejection from family, and suicide. Many LGBTQ youth do not have the opportunity or support needed to develop their abilities to become entrepreneurs, resulting in significantly underutilized talent opportunities,” says Schuurman. “Through this program, the CGLCC will be able to provide the encouragement and to support the development of the skills, attitudes and knowledge that LGBTQ youth require to become successful entrepreneurs. We are launching this first in Ontario, and will be piloting the program this fall. Our hope is to roll this out nationally, in partnership with our regional network of LGBT Chambers of Commerce, following the successful completion of the pilot.”

 

For anybody looking to participate, either as a youth entrepreneur or as a mentor, please visit www.cglcc.ca/youth.

 

You can also learn how TD can help you start up a small business or help your small business grow by visiting www.tdcanadatrust.com/products-services/small-business/smallbusiness-index.jsp.

 

AL RAMSAY is TD Bank Group’s regional manager, LGBTA Business Development, and leads a team of expert advisors dedicated to serving the LGBTA community. For more information or to book a meeting, he can be reached at al.ramsay@td.com or follow him on Twitter at @AlRamsay_TD.

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