Black-led Business Grants Program

Program Overview

With the impacts of COVID-19 disproportionately impacting the Black-led business community, CILAR recognizes the importance of responding to urgent community needs, while taking a long-term approach to building pathways to greater business sustainability. CILAR and its partners, Pitch Better and Black Opportunity Fund will provide cash grants in response to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on Canada’s Black-led business community.

Black-led businesses in Canada who are driving innovation in their businesses will be granted between $2,500 to $10,000. For eligibility criteria, see the eligibility criteria below.

This grant program is made possible thanks to the contribution of Facebook Canada to CILAR. We warmly invite members and others to join us on this journey to support the Black-led business community, as we work towards building additional, sustainable pathways to the innovation economy through network and revenue opportunities.

Our Partners and Why

Black Opportunity Fund

Black Opportunity Fund (BOF) seeks to establish a sustainable pool of capital to support economic and social empowerment for Black Canadians to help disrupt the impact of systemic anti-Black racism. BOF fulfills this mandate by:

  • providing multi-year funding to initiatives that impact the quality of life for Black communities
  • facilitating access to capital for Black businesses, to drive economic empowerment

BOF is committed to dismantling the barriers to opportunity facing Black community members, including a commitment to ensure gender parity.

BOF works to launch its granting and lending programs later this year and has partnered with CILAR and Pitch Better on this exciting program to bring much needed support to Black led businesses who are experiencing disproportionate impacts due to the pandemic.

Pitch Better

Frustrated by the lack of support for Black founders start-ups in the Canadian business eco-system, minimal support from incubators/accelerators and other localized innovation platforms, Pitch Better works to address data gap issues and the lack of market information available for diverse and specifically Black-led / Black-serving women’s organizations in Canada. Since 2019, we have offered support to over 700 Canadian companies and helped almost 10% of our community access funding.

We are pleased to partner with CILAR and BOF on this undertaking to truly ignite change by financially supporting Black women led businesses as we move through and beyond the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.

Funding provided by Facebook Canada

Program Timelines

Jul. 23

Application Launch Date: July 23, 2021

Aug. 20

Applications Close:
August 20, 2021

Sep. 20

Grant Recipient
Notification Date:
September 20, 2021

Eligibility Criteria

Through this fund, support will be provided to support as many Black-led businesses as possible. Support ranges from $2,500 to $10,000. Our goal is to provide capital resources needed to support your business through the ongoing impacts of the pandemic. We respect the challenges the Black-led business community has faced and aim to ensure the application process is simple, transparent and straightforward.

In order to apply, applicants must:

  • Be an organization that is Black-owned and/or Black-led - this means that the majority of your owners and/or leadership team identify as Black
  • Be a registered Canadian business with a valid business registration number
  • Share how the impacts of COVID have impacted your business
  • Provide an overview of how funds will be used to help sustain your business through the pandemic (e.g., technology support, certifications, skilling, digitizing, etc.)
  • Submit a full and accurate application

Those ineligible to apply include:

  • Registered charity or non-for-profit organizations
  • Organizations that display or have displayed insolvency
  • Have owners/directors that are undischarged or bankrupt
  • Organizations that are not majority Black-owned and/or Black-led
  • Public bodies performing a function of government in Canada
  • Organizations that do not comply with applicable anti-corruption laws and regulations
  • Organizations involved in the sponsoring or administering of the grant program (e.g., members of the selection committee)
  • Employees or immediate family members of the selection committee and anyone otherwise connected with administering the program

If you have additional questions about your eligibility, please contact:

Selection Process

In efforts to ensure a fair and equitable process, selection and assessment of applicants will occur in collaboration with CILAR’s selected partners, as follows:

  • CILAR will facilitate the application process
  • Based on applicants self-selected community partner - Black Opportunity Fund or Pitch Better - applications will be distributed to the respective selection committee
  • Black Opportunity Fund and Pitch Better will conduct the assessment and selection process based on the Assessment Rubric (below)
  • Black Opportunity Fund and Pitch Better will distribute the awarded funds based on their respective assessment and selection processes
  • Black Opportunity Fund and Pitch Better will inform all applicants of the decisions
  • CILAR will facilitate the opportunity to participate in future programs led by CILAR, Pitch Better and/or Black Opportunity Fund

Participant Notification Method: Via email address provided in the application

Contact Information:


Pitch Better:

Black Opportunity Fund:

Assessment Rubric

For transparency and clarity, we are providing some information on how your application will be evaluated. Evaluations will include the three steps noted as well as the Assessment Rubric included below

  1. CILAR, BOF and Pitch Better will remove duplicate applications and/or applications from charities and NFPs (see eligibility criteria)
  2. Each partner will complete their own adjudication process using the same Assessment Rubric
  3. Review committees are pan-Canadian

Assessment Component

Impact the pandemic has had on your business


Level of Innovation to the business, sector or industry


Impact of your Business (e.g. jobs created, building wealth for underrepresented communities, etc...)


Level of impact to support continued operations or scale of your business


What is the market opportunity for your business


2019, 2020 vs year-to-date financials


Expected use of Funds



How are decisions made?

Applications will be reviewed by CILAR’s selected partners, Black Opportunity Fund and Pitch Better. Selection/adjudication committees will use the common assessment rubric (scaling 5-point scale) and eligibility criteria from the application questions.

When can I expect to receive results?

Applications will close on August 20, 2021 and reviewed by September 17, 2021. Grant recipients will be notified by September 20, 2021.

If you have not been awarded a grant, Black Opportunity Fund and Pitch Better will provide a response and you can opt-in to being notified of future opportunities with CILAR, Pitch Better and/or Black Opportunity Fund as we build future programs and opportunities.

What are the reporting requirements?

Should your application be accepted, CILAR, Pitch Better and Black Opportunity Fund will ask you to report on the use of the funds provided through our platform. The aim will be to measure the impact of entrepreneur skills development, revenue growth, innovation, and job creation using the SAMETRICA impact reporting platform.

How will you protect my data and privacy?

Application information will only be used for the purposes of this grant application and will not be shared with third parties, unless explicitly approved by the applicant.

Data provided for reporting purposes will be kept confidential on CILAR’s platform which is PIPEDA compliant. Delivery partners, Pitch Better and Black Opportunity Fund will not distribute or share application information that is shared as part of the application process.

CILAR’s Privacy Policy can be found here.
Black Opportunity Fund’s Privacy Policy can be found here.
Pitch Better’s Privacy Policy can be found here.