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Rise micro-loans 1 min read

Rise lifts up small business owners with micro-loans and training

Mental health and addiction challenges can create barriers to employment. Entrepreneurship is one powerful way to overcome them. 

For over a decade, Rise has been empowering individuals living with mental health and addiction challenges to pursue entrepreneurship as a means of employment and economic participation. Through low-interest micro-loans and entrepreneurship training, Rise helps Canadians build the skills and access the capital they need to launch their own businesses.

Chief Operating Officer Beth Dea says the majority of businesses are home-based and wide-ranging – everything from creative services to skilled trades.

“A lot of people living with mental health challenges face many barriers to full-time employment,” says Dea. “So launching their own business is often the only option they have to live independently.”

Founded in Toronto in 2009 and later expanding in Ontario, the charity partnered with CWB in 2019 to launch Rise Alberta to support entrepreneurs throughout the province. Today Rise operates in nine locations across Canada and, to date, have disbursed over $2.5 million in low-interest loans to help launch more than 600 businesses.

Canadian philanthropists Sandra and Joseph Rotman collaborated with the Rotman School of Management and Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to develop this initiative at the intersection of employment, education and mental health. They wanted to provide individuals with mental health and addiction challenges with opportunities for meaningful work, on their own terms, through self-employment.

By the numbers

“There’s a real impact in helping people contribute to their families and their communities,” says Dea.

The Rise Small Business Lending Program provides access to financing, mentorship, and support. According to the Rise 2021 Impact Report:

  • 79% of Rise clients take pride in establishing and/or enhancing their business.
  • 71% of Rise clients agree that establishing their own business has helped to reduce stigma associated with mental illness.
  • The organization received 26% more applications to the Small Business Lending Program from September 2020 to February 2021 (vs. September 2019 to February 2020).
  • The organization received four times the number of applications to spaces available across all of their training programs (May 2020 to April 2021).