Newcomers are a vital part of the Canadian identity. The mix of cultures, experiences and beliefs make this country a truly wonderful place to live and to grow a business. Newcomers also bring new ideas to Canada’s entrepreneurial community. From Elle AyoubZadeh of Zvelle to Yashar Nijati of thisopenspace, the unique perspectives of Canadian newcomers allow for innovative and creative businesses that play an important role in the Canadian economy.
This Canada Day, we wanted to learn more about the newcomer experience and the entrepreneurial opportunities newcomers face. So we spoke with Sarafina Bonsu-Akoto, Futurpreneur Business Development Manager (BDM) for Ontario Newcomers, to discover more about Futurpreneur’s Newcomer Program.
As a BDM, my job entails encouraging and supporting entrepreneurs through the application process for our Newcomer and Start-up Program in Ontario. In supporting newcomer entrepreneurs, I am available to answer questions and inquiries on Futurpreneur, review business plans and financial documents and speak on business ideas or ventures. Another part of my role is to participate in events, presentations and workshops to engage prospective and current newcomer entrepreneurs. The goal is to help newcomers move forward in their business idea, providing them with the resources to start and grow a successful and sustainable business.
Newcomers to Canada, of all cultural background, face various amounts of challenges upon arrival, such as: language barriers, employment, housing, transportation, cultural differences, isolation from family and friends and of course our weather. (Please know this one is a constant struggle for all Canadians, you’re not alone!) Thankfully, our government works to circumvent majority of these challenges through services such as free English as a second language courses, newcomer community centers and our open and understanding culture. When it comes to employment it can be hard for newcomers to find positions in their area of expertise with our competitive job market and sometimes strict qualification criteria. Where the option of becoming an entrepreneur comes into play as a way to gain income, a sense of accomplish and pride.
I would say this is a yes and no answer as starting a business as a newcomer is similar to starting a business as a Canadian citizen, but the key difference may be low capital due to a lack of credit in Canada. It can be difficult to gain financing from places such as banks and investors when newcomers do not have a credit history in Canada. Many Canadian citizens go through the same struggle as well with acquiring financing. Where Futurpreneur’s Newcomer Program comes into effect is in providing the resources necessary in starting a business.
It is important for newcomers to know they can become entrepreneurs in Canada for many reasons. From wanting to find sources of income, to having a previous business in previous country and wishing to carry it over in Canada, there are various reasons for a newcomer to become an entrepreneur in Canada but don’t know there are resources there to help them.
The Futurpreneur Newcomer Program is for those who are new to Canada and don’t have a credit history. It’s there to help them launch their business by suppling newcomers with financing of up to $15,000 and one-on-one mentoring with an experienced entrepreneur. This program similar to our Start-up Program and is designed for those between the ages of 18-39 who have lived in Canada for fewer than 60 months (five years) and have obtained a Canadian citizenship or permanent resident. For the newcomer program, we’ve partnered with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), who offers $7,500 of the $15,000.
The benefits of the program, apart from the financing, would be the mentoring. An eligible newcomer is matched with an industry-leading mentor for up to two years. Mentors are there to help gain insight and perspective, providing the ability to focus your thoughts and ideas on your business and shorten and strengthen the learning curve of not only becoming an entrepreneur but succeeding in your business.
It’s a perfect space to start up. Through this program, newcomers get capital, mentoring and business planning tools which will allow them to grow. This program is designed for newcomers who have a business idea or those who have an existing business that is within in the first couple months of starting up. After receiving funds from Futurpreneur, newcomers are able to build their credit and business trust to go to a bank or private investor and show that “Yes, I am a newcomer I have received funding from Futurpreneur. Here is how much I have grown their funding and support. Please help me get to the next stage.”
If you have a business endeavour in mind, Futurpreneur Canada is here to help, visit our website and see what we can offer you. If you have any questions, there is a Business Development Manager nearest to you that can be able to answer them.