BDC to finance $325,000 in loans supporting entrepreneurs with mental health and addiction challenges.

BDC announced today it will finance $325,000 towards Rise Asset Development loans aimed at supporting entrepreneurs with mental health and addiction challenges.

Rise offers free training, mentorship, and low interest small business loans for people living with mental illness and addictions who want to pursue self-employment, but can’t obtain traditional financing. Rise clients benefit from the joint advice of The Rotman School of Management and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. The charity has loaned over $1 million to entrepreneurs to date.

The $325,000 sum will be distributed over the course of two years in $5,000 and $10,000 loans. The timeline will allow Rise, currently based in Ontario, to expand to other provinces—like Quebec—in that time.

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“We’re delighted to help Rise expand its innovative, empowering program,” said Michael Denham, President and CEO of BDC. “It fits perfectly with BDC’s purpose of support for entrepreneurs.  Rise’s clients deserve the same consideration as other entrepreneurs – and Canada needs more Rises.”

Rise has previously supported and given loans to a number of now-successful entrepreneurs. Camille Lauren—owner of Art of Ciel, an arts-based business where Lauren paints mixed media artwork inspired by sound, nature, and emotion—is one such business owner. Another is Darren Leu, who collaborates with artists, collective and organizations to explore differing perspectives and creates a dialogue with the public. Apanaki Temitatyo Minerve, the owner of Apanaka Designs, who produces multi-media acrylic artwork incorporating African textiles collage, is yet another.

“Rise is excited to broaden our partnership with BDC,” said Robert J. McGuire, Chair of Rise’s Board of Directors. “As we expand across Canada over the next three years, BDC’s support is making a big impact in the lives of resilient, hard-working and creative Canadians and their communities.” Rise has provided over $1 million in loans since it was founded in 2010 by the Rotman School of Management and the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health.

The announcement is a positive step towards increasing awareness of mental health in the tech and startup sectors. It’s not uncommon for founders and entrepreneurs to run themselves ragged, regularly working 80 hour weeks and foregoing vacations in the rush to turn their vision into reality., a passive mobile app aimed at helping people with depression, is currently in closed beta with a 92% accuracy score in detecting the early signs of a downward slump.

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“Today’s investment by the BDC to support Rise Asset Development and its work holds the potential to be transformative for many hardworking Canadians who need it most,” said the Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Small Business and Tourism and Leader of the Government in the House of Commons. “I am so encouraged by the work of Rise to help new entrepreneurs who are working hard to overcome past challenges. Our government is committed to supporting Canada’s middle class, and just as importantly, those working hard to join it. The people that Rise helps are working especially hard, and I commend them for their tenacity and dedication. The entrepreneurs that will be supported by Rise offer all of us an important lesson: that no matter what challenges we have faced in our lives, there is always hope and opportunity. And that we are stronger when we work together to promote growth and empowerment for all Canadians.”

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