Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
On behalf of Startup Canada and its board of directors, it is a pleasure to be here for the pre-budget consultations with my colleague Victoria Lennox, CEO and co-founder of Startup Canada.
Startup Canada, for those who may not know us, is the sole national not-for-profit in Canada dedicated to promoting entrepreneurialism, period, full stop. We pursue our mandate through a variety of means, including our very robust digital presence, with boots on the ground in 50 local communities from B.C.
to Quebec and the Atlantic provinces,
and seminal research into the challenges and opportunities facing entrepreneurs today. I'm going to get right to the point and the point is simple. We're proposing that budget 2019 include an allocation of $3 million over three years to Startup Canada to improve entrepreneurs' rapid adoption of everything digital. Furthermore, Startup Canada will commit to securing dollar-for-dollar matching funding for this initiative from the private sector, which brings the total capital
to $6 million over three years.
This funding will enable us to make a sustained—not one time and not one shot, but sustained—initiative to meet the real pressing needs of Canadian SMEs.
As I said, we conduct our own research and in 2017, we surveyed more than 400 small business owners. That survey concretely and conclusively showed that Canadian start-ups and scale-ups are facing several gaps that are hindering their ability to compete in today's very tough world. Twenty-nine per cent of small business owners surveyed don't believe that their current workforce has the right digital skills to grow their companies. This is the largest challenge facing Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises today. It's particularly acute in five big areas: digital marketing, social media, data analytics, programming and web development and design.
Furthermore, roughly half of small business owners stress the importance of taking part in digital training and professional development workshops. As such, our research dovetails with that of Business Development Canada, which earlier this week noted that a survey of its own recently showed that digital technology adoption remains quite low among small business with less than a quarter of small businesses having fewer than 20 employees currently using e-commerce platforms. Less than a quarter—wow. In BDC's own words, quoting from it's press release of a few days ago, “Canada's SMEs have to digitize now.”
These additional public and private sector resources will enable Startup Canada to significantly build up and build out its current suite of offerings and reach a much larger number of entrepreneurs than we can at present. It will enable us to make a measurable, significant reduction in the digital skills gap that's holding back our entrepreneurs.
We believe that the Government of Canada has already identified digital literacy as an area that needs to be addressed. We are honoured and pleased to have been able to participate in the consultation process launched by ISED Minister Bains on this matter.
Why us? Are we right? Even if the job has to be done, are we the right people to do it? I think we are. First, we have acknowledged expertise in the digital space. The Minister for Small Business and Export Promotion, Minister Ng, wrote on Twitter in mid-July that while being the number one digital presence in Canada for entrepreneurs, Startup Canada is doing some great work to bring more people into the fold. Our position employs the support of key stakeholders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, more than 25, and that includes EDC, Export Development Canada, the Canada Learning Code, Mitacs, etc. I'd be happy to give you a list of those that my colleague Victoria has handy.
To date, in 2018, we have hosted over 150 practical entrepreneur-led digital training sessions that are pulling in a thousand new entrepreneurs every month. Our digital programs, five in all, support 35,000 entrepreneurs every year. To do this, we work closely with 75 major public and private sector partners. I've already mentioned BDC and EDC. It also includes Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Bank of Montreal, etc. We can do a lot more with the appropriate resources.
Thank you for your time.