Modern urban skyscrapers in downtown Chicago from below to the blue summer sky. Sun reflecting in the glass facades of the urban futuristic buildings. Chicago, Illinois, USA

A new survey of Black entrepreneurs in Canada says widespread barriers stand in the way of Black Canadians who are looking to start and grow businesses, including a lack of access to capital and low trust in banks.

The survey of 342 Black entrepreneurs found that three-quarters said their race makes it harder to succeed in business, with systemic racism and the lack of a business network cited as barriers to growth.

It found the top challenges are access to funding and financing, and only 19% of those surveyed said they trust banks to do what is right for them and their community. Three-quarters of respondents said it would be difficult to find $10,000 if they needed it to support their businesses.

The survey, commissioned by the African Canadian Senate Group and Senator Colin Deacon, also found almost half of Black entrepreneurs are unable to pay themselves from their businesses.

Networks and support are critical to empowering Black entrepreneurs, the survey found, and yet a majority said they don’t know how to access supports or advice when challenges arise in their businesses.

Representation and relationships are also important, particularly at financial institutions. Entrepreneurs who had a relationship with someone at their bank were twice as likely to say they trusted the institution, but only one in three Black entrepreneurs said they have access to advisors they can trust at a financial institution.

“This finding highlights the importance of building trusting relationships with clients, and having people who work at those financial institutions reflect and understand the experiences that Black entrepreneurs face,” the report said.

Still, 87% of Black entrepreneurs reported that they are either very or somewhat optimistic about the future of their businesses.

Wes Hall, executive chairman of Kingsdale Advisors and a chair of the BlackNorth Initiative, said the survey highlights how anti-Black systemic racism is limiting Black entrepreneurs.

“If we want Black entrepreneurs to succeed, we must take bold action and dismantle corporate structures that uphold anti-Black systemic racism and that prevent Black entrepreneurs from accessing capital and diminish their trust in financial institutions,” Hall said in a statement.

BlackNorth was a partner in the survey, which Abacus Data conducted in March and April.