October 21, 2021

BIPOC small business owners more optimistic than most about post-pandemic recovery


Canadian Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC)-owned small businesses showed greater resiliency amid the pandemic and their owners report feeling more optimistic about the future than non-BIPOC small business owners, according to a recent Scotiabank report.

The second annual Path to Impact Report, which surveyed over 900 businesses across the country, found 69 per cent of BIPOC business owners feel extremely or very optimistic about their business’ future, compared to 55 per cent of non-BIPOC small business owners.

Thirty-one per cent of BIPOC business owners reported an improvement in their pre-pandemic performance, compared to 14 per cent of non-BIPOC businesses, thanks to BIPOC businesses offering a greater selection of online services and products and improving their digital capabilities to a greater degree than their peers.

“Canadian small business owners have found ways to adapt their business, investing heavily in digital and prioritizing flexibility to meet the expectations of customers,” Jason Charlebois, senior vice president of small business at Scotiabank, said in a press release.

“BIPOC small business owners have demonstrated their adaptability and fortitude by reaching new markets and incorporating new technologies to grow their businesses. While uncertainty remains, small business owners can benefit from seeking qualified advice, taking advantage of the various tools and supports, and looking broadly for new talent and customers as they pivot to succeed in the new normal.”

Still, 47 per cent of BIPOC small businesses say they are disproportionately faced with systemic barriers that put their businesses at a disadvantage.

Despite ongoing uncertainty about COVID-19 case rates heading into the winter, the Scotiabank report found that business optimism is on the rise as vaccination rates rise and economies begin to reopen.

More than half (54 per cent) of small business owners surveyed reported doing the same or better than they were pre-pandemic and 77 per cent say they are well equipped to survive a future wave.

Despite that optimism, 51 per cent of small businesses expect they will need additional financial support in the future, especially as many of the federal government’s key pandemic supports are set to expire soon.

Programs like the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) are scheduled to terminate on Oct. 23, after being extended several times since their launch in 2020, despite acknowledgments from the government that the pandemic continues to pose a challenge to businesses.

“Only 40 per cent of small businesses are at normal levels of sales, 60 per cent are not there yet. I think a lot of people see businesses open and they just assume that we’re back to normal, but it’s definitely not the case,” Canadian Federation of Independent Business president Dan Kelly told CTVNews.ca last week.

“January to March is already just a terrible season for most businesses and so having at least a little bit of assurance that they’re going to have programs to rely upon will allow them to plan.”

With files from Sarah Turnbull

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