Canadian Entrepreneurship Initiative launches in response to worrying report

Richard Branson was in Ottawa yesterday, where he helped launch the Canadian Entrepreneurship Initiative (CEI). To mark their launch, as well as Canada’s 150th birthday, the CEI have released a report into the current state of entrepreneurship in the country...

According to the report, entitled Entrepreneurship: Canada’s Golden Opportunity, the national outlook on entrepreneurship was very much stuck in the past. Tellingly, when asked to name a famous Canadian entrepreneur the most popular examples given were male historical figures born between 1764 and 1954, such as Joseph-Armand Bombardier, Conrad Black and Alexander Graham Bell.

Unlike the UK and the US, there’s currently little desire to start a business from many in the country, with only four in 10 people aspiring to found their own company. For aspiring entrepreneurs the biggest barrier is lacking access to capital - a factor cited by eight in 10. While 68 per cent of current entrepreneurs reported that teachers and mentors have not been supportive of their entrepreneurial path, and barely half felt they have been supported by previous colleagues.

However, there are positives to come from the report, which the CEI can look to build upon. More than two-thirds of Canadians think it’s a great country in which to start a business, and regard ambition as a good thing, while seven in 10 entrepreneurs reported that Canada was a good place to run a business.

Richard Branson: Celebrating entrepreneurs and dancing on tables in Ottawa

In response to these findings, the CEI will launch Amplify, a programme to support and uplift Canadian entrepreneurs, with a primary focus on women-lead small and medium enterprises.

"I founded this initiative because I wish this program had been there for me as I was growing up in Trois-Rivières," said serial entrepreneur Ruma Bose [pictured below with Richard Branson], who co-founded the Canadian Entrepreneurship Initiative alongside Jonathan Glencross. "I see so much incredible Canadian potential that could be unleashed if our culture was more supportive of entrepreneurship."

The initiative has committed to several programs to support both entrepreneurial spirit and action in Canada. This includes supporting increased access to online support and capital investment for small and medium-sized businesses.

"As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday, it’s time to realise the country’s potential to become a global powerhouse of free enterprise and innovation," commented the Virgin Group founder.

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