The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated systemic problems previously existed, the report found.

If banks and public policymakers did more to help Black-owned businesses overcome systemic obstacles it would better help the economy overall, a new report finds.

That’s the main conclusion of a new report published by the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce this week in a comprehensive attempt to grasp the challenges facing Canada’s Black business community.

More than 1.2 million people of African Caribbean and Black descent call Canada home—a significant demographic cohort that is being held back from reaching its full potential, according to the report.

“Let’s just level the playing field and give people a fair chance to succeed and to thrive,” CBCC president Christelle Francois said in an interview. “It’s good for the business, it’s good for the people loaning the money, it’s good for our whole economy.”

One of the biggest obstacles facing the Black business community, Francois says, is a lack of data about the realities on the ground for Black business owners.

She added that one of the principal aims of the report is to set a baseline to see where the Black business community stands today, so future research can help measure and improve progress.