The “Business Immigrant Integration Support” program that helps Asian immigrants start small and medium-sized businesses in British Columbia, creating hundreds of jobs and injecting tens of millions of dollars into the local economy, has been terminated.
The program started in 2012 by one of B.C.’s largest immigrant settlement agencies, known as Success, with over 400 employees. It offered courses, mentorship opportunities and practical advice on how to set up, operate and improve various types of small businesses.
According to Success, since its inception in 2012 until the time it lost its funding in April 2015, the business integration program helped immigrant entrepreneurs start 109 businesses and create or maintain 612 jobs, with a total of more than $60-million invested in the provincial economy.
During that period, the province provided roughly $3.1-million, which had been allocated by the federal government, according to the provincial Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills training. But in 2012, the federal government announced it would take back funding from B.C. and Manitoba. Even though the Success program got its original funding back in 2012, the money has now run out.
The ministry, in a statement, said it would have preferred to keep running its own immigration settlement programs. The Success group may apply for new federal funding for the program, but as of now, the program is dormant and not taking any new applicants for courses or mentorships.
Success program director Eliza Chang says the service was geared toward a slightly wealthier set of immigrants. Even though some of these wealthier immigrants run successful businesses abroad and possess adequate English skills, many still lack knowledge of local business laws and the confidence to establish businesses. One prominent real estate firm estimated rich buyers with ties to China accounted for one-third of single, detached family home sales in Vancouver. Ms. Chang says the program is aimed at getting the most out of entrepreneurial immigrants who may otherwise stay isolated and unproductive.