Innovators & Entrepreneurs Foundation (IEF) is a national charity dedicated to supporting founders and innovators belonging to racialized and/or equity-deserving groups as they navigate the unfair barriers of institutional, structural, and interpersonal biases.
Our mission at IEF is to support, educate, and celebrate innovation and entrepreneurship among business owners who belong to racialized and/or equity deserving communities across Canada.
Who We Serve
The charity supports entrepreneurs and innovators belonging to equity deserving and/or racialized communities across Canada. We align our definition of racialized and equity-deserving groups with definitions used by United Nations, and that used by the National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health: defined as members from groups and communities that experience social, cultural, political, educational, and economic discrimination and exclusion because of unequal power relationships across economic, political, educational, social, and cultural dimensions.
The communities we serve include but are not limited to:
- Members of racialized communities
- Indigenous and Métis Peoples
- Persons with disability(ies)
- Youth, to age 29
- Age 55+ new business entrepreneur
- Canadian Armed Forces Military Veterans
Our Four Pillars of Service
Based on the most current and in-demand needs of those we serve, the charity develops and adapts its support programs and offerings to best serve our network.
Our Support Programs Include:
- MICRO-GRANTS provide Canadian equity-deserving entrepreneurs simple and quick access to funds to aid in boosting their businesses.
- ROUNDTABLE PANEL DISCUSSIONS provides peer to peer networking, exchange of ideas and resources, and provides a voice to Canadian business owners to express their biggest needs from the charity, and our nation’s policy makers.
- Access to FREE AND DISCOUNTED SERVICES that reduce business operations expenses.
- IEF’s MONTHLY NEWSLETTER, providing easy access to relevant and impactful resources, and stories of success and celebration. The charity uses this platform to communicate critical information our network does not have time to research on their own and delivers it in a quick one-stop resource.
- MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES & SUPPORT designed specifically for entrepreneurs. The charity has engaged therapists who specialize in entrepreneur mental health to develop programming and access to in-demand resources and coping tools, workshops, 1:1 therapy sessions and peer group talk sessions.
- CANADIAN SMALL BUSINESS DIRECTORY the charity has developed a directory that allows searchers to find Canadian SMEs by region and by equity-deserving group.
- MONTHLY ENTREPRENEUR FEATURE SPOTLIGHT featured on our Small Business Directory.
With over forty years of celebrating our nation’s excellence in innovation and business achievement, the Canadian Innovation & Entrepreneurship (CANIE Awards) are one of the most prestigious and longest standing national awards of its kind. It has been an honour for IEF to host these distinguished national awards.
We provide relevant and impactful education workshops and resources to aid our network in business development and growth. Education is provided via formal training workshops, webinars, and asynchronous business training modules.
Education is provided through a variety of partnerships the charity has made with industry experts, and private & public sector training and coaching facilitators.
Education topics have and will continue to be based on feedback provided through IEF’s research and network, and include how to access grants and financial support, digital literacy and transformation, inventory management, navigating supply chain challenges, human resources, people development, diversity, equity, inclusion & belonging training, financial literacy, and marketing.
Leveraging the strong relationships that the charity has developed with other like-minded national organizations, IEF relies on current research relevant to the equity-deserving groups we serve to design our services & programs, and to steer advocacy.
IEF’s Roundtable Insights Reports summarize industry research and combine the insights and knowledge gained from:
- Hosting Roundtable Sessions with our advisory board and network program engagers to share their experience, views, challenges and strengths unique to their equity-deserving community.
- Anonymized demographic and other data obtained with permission through the charity’s CANIE Award and Micro-grant applicants that provide insights on the greatest strengths, challenges, and needs per region and per equity-deserving communities.
Using reliable external research and data provided by Statistics Canada, our partners, and established entrepreneurial ecosystem supporters, the quarterly
Roundtable Insights Reports identify trends, challenges, successes, and greatest needs of the communities we serve. We use this research to shape the charity’s programs and services, and to steer advocacy with key national policy makers.