RBC was one of the two banks that created and launched the Canadian Youth Business Foundation (now Futurpreneur) in 1996 to fill a gap in lending to Canada’s young startup founders.
RBC’s partnership with Futurpreneur has evolved and expanded throughout our first 25 years and today, RBC is a key partner, engaging with the same resolve that led it to create Futurpreneur in the first place.
Through the RBC Foundation and its Future Launch initiative, RBC has provided multi-year funding for Futurpreneur’s Rock My Business Series. This series provides workshops for young entrepreneurs in three critical areas: business idea development, business plan creation, and cashflow projection analysis. Through these prelaunch workshops, participants have the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship and refine their business ideas and plans together with Futurpreneur’s business development managers, entrepreneurs-in-residence, and RBC business advisors. In 2020, RBC augmented its commitment with the RBC Rock My Business Startup Awards: eight awards of $10,000 each that celebrate aspiring entrepreneurs’ achievements in creating robust business plans and cash flow statements.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, Futurpreneur sought a way to sustain the impact of its valuable Rock My Business in-person workshops in an online format. Pivoting in response to the crisis, Futurpreneur developed a virtual solution that not only ensured the program’s continuation, but actually enhanced and expanded the participant experience. By tailoring the workshops to groups of young entrepreneurs at different stages in their businesses’ development, the Rock My Business workshops are now able to better prepare aspiring entrepreneurs, and to do so without the barriers of geography or in-person constraints. One year into its fully virtual online format, the Rock My Business series is exceeding its targets and attracting record levels of participation among young and burgeoning entrepreneurs.
In 2020, as issues related to systemic racism, particularly anti-Black racism, assumed prominence worldwide, RBC took a leadership role and announced a $100-million loan capital commitment to support Black-led businesses and an additional $50 million to support programming for 25,000 Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) youth. Recognizing Futurpreneur’s established public commitment to Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) as part of its core activities, RBC sought Futurpreneur’s expertise in developing an inclusive loan financing program to support earlystage Black entrepreneurs.
After several months of program design and funding conversations with RBC, Futurpreneur, RBC and co-lending partner BDC announced the launch of the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program on March 24, 2021. Based on Futurpreneur’s proven model of inclusive loan financing, two years of mentorship, and other resources, this is a tailored program created and delivered by Black professionals for young, Black entrepreneurs across the country. RBC’s enthusiastic support and multiyear funding of operations and loan capital for the new program has been vital to the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program’s activation and to a long-term, transformative program that mitigates financing barriers and addresses the needs of young Black entrepreneurs seeking to build their dream business and contribute to their communities.
On the occasion of its 25th anniversary, Futurpreneur celebrates the many contributions made by RBC over the last quarter century. RBC played a pivotal role in creating Futurpreneur in its formative years, and RBC and the RBC Foundation have played a central role in strengthening Futurpreneur’s service offering through their steadfast support, funding of integral programs, and genuine commitment to championing diverse, aspiring young entrepreneurs and business owners across Canada.
While the magnitude of RBC’s significant, unwavering commitment over our 25 years sets it apart, Futurpreneur is grateful for the past and ongoing commitment of many dozens of corporate partners whose support has fuelled our programs, resources, and tools to help young entrepreneurs across Canada start and succeed.