Entrepreneurship Connections, a partnership between ACCES Employment and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), is an innovative program to help immigrants launch their own business in the GTA. The program is funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada.
For newcomers who arrive in Canada with international business experience, self-employment is a means to increase their economic well-being. Yet immigrants often lack access to the information and resources needed to start their own businesses in Canada. This program addresses that barrier.
Supporting newcomer entrepreneurs is a strategy that benefits both new immigrants, for whom their own business can improve their economic well-being, and for the region, where small businesses and entrepreneurial ventures help build a robust economy. Entrepreneurship Connections, a partnership between ACCES Employment and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), achieves both these benefits.
New immigrants frequently come with a spirit of enterprise and strong business experience but can lack the knowledge, support and professional network to start a business here in Canada. Entrepreneurship Connections helps immigrants overcome these barriers by increasing their knowledge about local markets, legal and regulatory requirements, and potential sources of finance as well as helping them to build business networks.
“As an organization serving newcomers, we are acutely aware of the needs of our clients. Many are looking for information about starting their own business, and this program serves to meet their unique needs as new entrepreneurs,” said Allison Pond, Executive Director of ACCES Employment. “We had an ongoing partnership with BDC, who have the expertise to support entrepreneurs. We tapped into this partnership and collaborated with them to successfully launch the program.”
The two organizations bring unique skills to the table: ACCES has excellent capacity in program delivery and BDC has the resources that entrepreneurs need to start their businesses. They have leveraged their distinctive strengths to meet a critical need for a program that serves immigrant entrepreneurs.
“BDC has been serving Canadian entrepreneurs for more than 65 years. At the national level, our team helps more than 28,000 small and medium-sized businesses reach their full potential. We have the expertise and capability to support and coach new immigrant-entrepreneurs,” says Peter Lawler, Senior Vice President Financing and Consulting, Ontario, at BDC. BDC employees also benefit from the program: they build a sense of enrichment in their own jobs and develop new skills.
The success rate for the 4-week intensive program during its first year of existence was encouraging with 70% of 2013 participants either having already launched their business or in the process of starting. The future of the program also looks promising with new elements, including a mentoring component, being added. 2014 enrollment has increased by over 50% and BDC is looking for opportunities to replicate the program with suitable community partners across the country.
Entrepreneurship Connections (ACCES Employment and the Business Development Bank of Canada) won the 2013 RBC Immigrant Success Award.
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