Federal and provincial investments are helping to grow and strengthen PEI’s entrepreneurial ecosystem

Through RDÉE Prince Edward Island programs

ABRAM-VILLAGE – May 17, 2024 – Francophone and Acadian communities play a crucial role in growing Atlantic Canada’s economy and fueling a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. As more youth are attracted to the challenges and rewards of the small business sector, the Government of Canada recognizes that proper resources, tools, and strategic investment must be in place to ensure sustainable, long-term prosperity.

Today, Bobby Morrissey, Member of Parliament for Egmont, announced a total investment of more than $730,000 to RDÉE Prince Edward Island for four projects. The announcement was made on behalf of the Honourable Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA.

The funding will support economic development activities and training for young entrepreneurs as well as Acadian and Francophone businesses in Prince Edward Island, including a variety of the organization’s key initiatives, such as mentorship programs, start-up supports, web translation services, increased capacity and trade missions for small business.

The Province of PEI is investing close to $310,000 to further support these same RDÉE PEI activities.

Today’s announcement demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to strengthening the small business sector in Atlantic Canada by helping Acadian and Francophone communities build an inclusive and diverse economy.

“Small businesses are the heart of our rural communities, which is why your federal government is lifting up the next generation of entrepreneurs on PEI. We are making sure they have a fair shot at success, ” noted Hutchings in her message.

“Prince Edward Island’s Francophone business community continues to shine. These companies are a source of pride for all Islanders. Thanks to RDÉE PEI, we see growing and increasingly diverse opportunities for the many talented young Islanders looking for ways to give back to their communities,” said Morrissey.

“The financial investments we make into young Island entrepreneurs has a direct impact in fostering an environment where ideas translate to tangible products and services. I am especially proud to partner with organizations like RDÉE to make economic development opportunities available to French-speaking Island entrepreneurs expand their market reach and celebrate their entrepreneurship journey as a means of wealth creation,” said the Honourable Gilles Arsenault, PEI Minister for Economic Development, Innovation and Trade.

Meanwhile, Stéphane Blanchard, executive director of RDÉE PEI, commented that “These two levels of government are always ready to listen when we come to the table with a project that will contribute to the economic development or the employability of our Acadian, Francophone and Island communities. We thank you for the great confidence you keep placing in our team to deliver the goods year after year.”


  • RDÉE Île-du-Prince-Édouard Inc. is the provincial francophone economic development council, providing leadership and coordination support dedicated to the prosperity of the Acadian and francophone community of Prince Edward Island.
  • The Government of Canada is providing a total of $731,724 in non-repayable support through ACOA’s Business Development Program (BDP) and Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) to RDÉE PEI, for these projects:
    – $277,164 to support the delivery of student internship program PERCÉ for 2024-2028, matching post-secondary students with Island employers.
    – $180,450 in 2023 and $217,400 in 2024 to support spring and fall sales missions to Quebec to match Francophone buyers and sellers from PEI and Quebec, benefitting 20 small Francophone businesses each year.
    – $56,710 to support RDÉE PEI’s Francophone Ignition Contest through 2023-24.
  • The Province of PEI is providing $283,036 in support of the PERCÉ program through the Department of Workforce, Advanced Learning and Population, and a grant of $25,000 through Innovation PEI to support the Ignition pitch.


Blanchard briefly explained the supported initiatives. He is being quoted directly.

The PERCÉ program is one of the “crown jewels” of our programming. Here we are, already beginning the 21st year of this internship program for post-secondary students. Its aim is simple: to encourage our young people, who often study outside the province, to return to the Island permanently to make a life and career for themselves here, and thus contribute to our economy in every way. Thirty-five students will get a taste of their future careers this summer as they spend 10 to 12 weeks doing salaried work in their field of study. At the same time, we’ll be offering a small financial incentive to the employers to host and mentor these young people, to give them a real taste of their field of work and to introduce them to key people in their industry. In addition, we will offer the participants a few days of training in personal and professional development and in job searching. Funding received from both levels covers program coordination, salary incentives, training, promotion and administration.

The second initiative is our sales missions to Montreal and Quebec City every spring and fall. As we speak, our spring delegation, including our development officer Robert Maddix, is on the road returning from Montreal. At first glance, this 15th mission seems to have produced very good results as always. To explain: We recruit around 10 French-speaking or bilingual Island businesses that have products ready to « export » to Quebec. We offer them advanced, targeted training to help them with their sales pitch. Then, the Quebec firm Clientis schedules a dozen in-person or virtual meetings with potential buyers in and around Montreal. Usually, in the medium term, each mission translates into around $1 million in sales for our Island producers and merchants. Many of our past participants have had to hire new employees or even expand their production facilities. Our two funding partners cover training, the matchmaking between our businesses and potential buyers, and a portion of travel expenses.

The third initiative unveiled this morning is our Francophone Ignition Contest, which began 10 years ago as the “Dragons’ Contest”. We based our original business development contest on the TV shows « Dans l’œil du Dragon », « Dragons’ Den » and « Shark Tank ». In the early years, the rewards we offered to the winners were rather marginal. But for the past several years, Innovation PEI has agreed to grant us one of the $25,000 prizes from its « Ignition Start-Up Fund » so that we can offer it as an investment in our champion’s business project. ACOA covers a full weekend of training for the competitors, as well as a pre-selection process to identify three finalists, and a final evening for judges to choose the project with the best chance of success. This spring’s edition drew our biggest crowd yet.

The final initiative is our brand-new Web Translation Program, which we’re officially launching this morning. This is a fund granted from ACOA and managed by the RDÉE, to provide support to companies and organizations wishing to have their web material translated, especially from English to French. The program can cover 75% of translation expenses, up to a maximum of $2,000. We have assembled a small network of professional translators who carry out the translation work. Those wishing to benefit from the program simply fill in a small form on our website at www.rdeeipe.net/translation. We get an estimate from one of the translators; the customer signs a small contract and pays his or her share, and the work proceeds. We’re piloting this initiative between now and September to see if there’s a real demand for such a professional service.



PHOTO 1: At the funding announcement on May 17, from left, are Bobby Morrissey, Member of Parliament for Egmont representing ACOA; Stéphane Blanchard, executive director of RDÉE PEI; and Gilles Arsenault, Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Trade.

PHOTOS 2, 3 and 4: During their presentations : Bobby Morrissey, Member of Parliament for Egmont representing ACOA; Stéphane Blanchard, executive director of RDÉE PEI; and Gilles Arsenault, Minister of Economic Development, Innovation and Trade.

PHOTO 5: The two government officials with RDÉE PEI representatives present at the launch: from left, Julie Gallant, Josée Arsenault, Raymond J. Arsenault, provincial minister Gilles Arsenault, Stéphane Blanchard, Member of Parliament Bobby Morrissey, Alecia Arsenault, Amy Richard and Edmond Gallant (treasurer).