Minister MacAulay announces funding to York University to support underrepresented agri-food entrepreneurs across Canada

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Source: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

In the lead up to International Women’s Day 2024, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, announced up to $476,742 in funding over the next two years to York University’s YSpace, an innovation hub supporting startups and entrepreneurs. The funding will support the new Food & Beverage Accelerator program that aims to build and implement specialized tools and resources to support the unique challenges faced by underrepresented groups in the consumer-packaged goods and agri-food sector.

YSpace will be leveraging its expertise from both ELLA, which provides dedicated programming for women entrepreneurs, and the Black Entrepreneurship Alliance, which provides specialized streams for Black entrepreneurs to better engage with communities.

This investment was provided through the AgriDiversity Program, an initiative under the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership. The AgriDiversity Program supports activities that strengthen Canada’s agriculture sector to better leverage the potential offered by Indigenous Peoples and other underrepresented and marginalized groups in Canadian agriculture—including women, youth, persons with disabilities, racialized persons, visible minorities, 2SLGBTQI+ communities, and official language minority communities—to fully participate in the sector by helping these groups address the key issues and barriers they often face for sector participation.

Canada’s diverse population is a source of strength and helps make the sector more competitive and prosperous.

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is committed to addressing the profound systemic inequities and disparities that remain present in our society and institutions. We continue to collaborate with various underrepresented communities and actively seek to incorporate the diverse views of Canadians in all aspects of the agriculture sector.

Quotes

“This new funding for YSpace at York University is vitally important and I’m so pleased to be supporting this initiative. Removing barriers and creating more opportunities for women and other underrepresented groups is essential to building an economy that works for everyone and keeping the sector strong.”

– The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

“We are thrilled to see the government’s commitment to fostering diversity and innovation in the agri-food sector through initiatives like the AgriDiversity funding. This investment in York University’s YSpace will undoubtedly empower underrepresented groups in our community to thrive and succeed in the competitive landscape of consumer-packaged goods and agri-food. Congratulations to YSpace for spearheading the Food & Beverage Accelerator program, which aligns perfectly with our values of inclusivity and progress. I look forward to witnessing the positive impact this program will have on our local economy and beyond.”

– Honourable Judy A. Sgro, Member of Parliament Humber River-Black Creek

“We are thrilled that our Food & Beverage Accelerator will soon be able to support racialized and women founders nationally. We have built a robust and impactful program, and now with the funding resources to serve these groups, we can expand not only our reach, but impact across Canada.”

– David Kwok, Director of Entrepreneurship & Innovation at YSpace

Quick facts

  • The AgriDiversity Program aims to strengthen the sector and build its capacity by helping members from underrepresented and marginalized groups develop their leadership skills to take on greater roles.
  • Since 2018, YSpace has developed over a dozen programs that support diverse entrepreneurs in building and scaling innovative technology, agri-food and professional service ventures with customized mentorship, entrepreneurship education, incubator space and networking opportunities.
  • The Food & Beverage Accelerator, launched in 2019 and hosted within YSpace, is Ontario’s first and only accelerator focused on scaling consumer-packaged goods ventures in the food and beverage sector. It directly supports businesses as they scale-up, create jobs and increase productivity.

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