Throughout the pandemic, small business owners have demonstrated their resilience when it comes to managing the unknown, especially as we head into a looming recession. They have adapted to the needs of their communities and delivered innovative solutions in the most unpredictable moments. But as much as we rely on small businesses to help our communities thrive, they need our support too.
While the disruptions caused by the pandemic are mostly behind us, the enterprises that form the backbone of our society are now facing a whole new set of challenges — labour shortages, supply chain issues and inflation chief among them.
Why does this matter?
According to Industry Canada, roughly 98% of Canadian companies are small businesses, employing almost two thirds of Canadians. And more than half of those workers are employed by businesses with fewer than 20 employees. There’s a huge potential for impact.
These businesses do more than just provide employment, they are neighbourhood hubs where people come together, find things they need, or just spend time engaging over coffee. They are the pillars of our communities and what makes every neighbourhood in every city unique and special.
Throughout the pandemic, Canadians looked to entrepreneurs to see how they were able to adapt while continuing to provide essential goods and services. It’s that same innovative thinking that will serve us now, as these entrepreneurs continue to recognize and capitalize on the opportunities that will come during unpredictable times ahead.
I’m so proud that Desjardins has brought back the GoodSpark Grants for a third consecutive year, committing another $3 million to help entrepreneurs drive innovation, promote sustainability, and create jobs, enriching the lives and the communities where they live and work.
In my role, I work alongside more than 2,000 independent insurance agents and licensed team members. Our Desjardins Agents are small business owners themselves, and I’m fortunate to be able to hear from them about the challenges they face and the impact their businesses have in their communities.
I’ve also seen how programs like the Desjardins GoodSpark Grants have helped entrepreneurs give back to their communities. Companies like Greenii, which developed new methods to turn clean paper waste into original gift bags and packaging, or smartARM Robotics, which is innovating 3D printing to make bionic limbs cheaper and more accessible, or Shade of Miti, which is promoting food and climate justice through sustainable farming.
They and many others have inspired a group of up-and-coming entrepreneurs to create their own future, to use their agility and creativity to solve every new challenge as it rises, and to find opportunity in the most unlikely places.
So just as they have continued to be there for us, entrepreneurs will need our support now more than ever. We can’t predict exactly what will come tomorrow, but we can be sure that small businesses will be there and have a big role to play.