Ottawa, banks approve millions in loans to reduce barriers for Black entrepreneurs

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Open this photo in gallery: Miro LaFlaga and Ahs Phillips, founders of design agency Six Cinquième in Montreal received a loan from Bank of Montreal, on Sept. 29.Karene-Isabelle Jean-Baptiste/The Globe and Mail Major lending programs for Black entrepreneurs have quickened their paces after a slow start, with Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce approving $8.5-million in loans and grants and Ottawa authorizing about $35.1-million in loans so far. After the killing of George Floyd in 2020, the federal government, major financial institutions and Black community groups spent months discussing how to knock down some of the barriers that Black businesses disproportionately face in accessing capital. Ottawa and major banks almost came together to launch a new national lending initiative, but the banks walked away to run their own programs. The major federal vehicle is the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund. It provides loans of up to $250,000 and is administered by the Federation of African Canadian Economics, with $130-million in credit from the Business Development Bank of Canada, or BDC. FACE had a difficult first year after launching in the summer of 2021, as thousands of enthusiastic entrepreneurs rushed to apply and the organization was not set up to handle the volume....