August 22, 2018 3:10 pm

New program aims to help Alberta’s immigrant small business owners

Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous stands with small business entrepreneurs during the announcement of the province's Immigrant Entrepreneur Program, Wed., Aug. 22, 2018.

Alberta government, Courtesy

The province has launched a new program designed to assist immigrant entrepreneurs in Alberta.

The Immigrant Entrepreneur Program — developed by Business Link — will include training and resources that address the needs of immigrants who are starting a small business in Alberta.

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“The program will bolster Alberta’s economy by equipping new Albertans with the supports they need to run their businesses more effectively. Businesses that will, in turn, contribute actively to the economy, support job creation and enrich our communities,” Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous said.

READ MORE: Immigrants help Lethbridge economy flourish with diverse businesses and culture

The program will include providing one-on-one support and delivery of training, providing immigrant business guidebooks and resources and delivering outreach that focuses on small business service providers and organizations in rural areas.

“The training will be offered in person through outreach and via webinar to allow for participation from across Alberta,” Business Link executive director Gord Sawatzky said. “The guidebooks will be shared with other business service organizations who will be encouraged to provide them with clients and also to translate them into languages should they choose.”

READ MORE: If immigration was slashed, Canada’s economy would feel the pinch: report

The province said immigrant entrepreneurs face barriers, including language, understanding local business practices and limited access to professional networks. It’s especially true in rural Alberta where immigrant populations are rising, but resources are harder to access, the province said.

“As an entrepreneur who ran a business in my native Cameroon and always wanted to do the same in Canada, it was a very different pathway to starting a business in Edmonton,” Diversity Centre founder Frankline Agbor said. “I have been fortunate to get the much needed continuous support from Business Link, and Microbusiness Training Centre Small Business Training Programs.”

“Our ultimate goal with the program is to help foster many new immigrant-owned businesses and we’ll be with them every step of the way,” Sawatzky said. “We truly believe that just because you’re in business for yourself does not mean you have to do it all by yourself.”

READ MORE: Entrepreneurs get help from Alberta government

The program is also targeting women, with Status of Women contributing $30,000 towards activities and training relevant to immigrant women.

“Starting a new business is never easy, and it can be even harder for a newcomer to Canada. Through one-on-one support and tailored services, this program will help budding entrepreneurs start out on the right foot,” Children’s Services and Status of Women Minister Danielle Larivee said.

“These new businesses will not only help support families, they’ll create community assets and grow our economy.”

The total grant funding for the program is $336,000 over two years.

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