Supporting Aspiring Black Entrepreneurs and Businesses

  • Recipient: Black Creek Community Health Centre and Afro Caribbean Business Network
  • Region: Southern Ontario
  • Most recent funding allocated: $4.3 million
The Black Entrepreneurship Alliance featuring a group of Black Entrepreneurs smiling.
Photo provided by the Black Entrepreneurship Alliance.
(Left-Right): Therese BoWenge, Nunu Francisco, Toni Agbaje-Ojo, Olu Villasa, Kanishia Mensah, Lisa Pryce, Mary Olabanwo and Bookie Adekanye.

"Our government recognizes the important role these services play, and we will continue to work to ensure the next generation of Black entrepreneurs have access to the tools, mentorship and resources they need to grow the economy, create good jobs and build thriving communities."

The Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

Every day Black business owners and entrepreneurs make invaluable contributions to communities across southern Ontario, and their success is integral to Canada’s future economic prosperity. For too long, Black-led businesses have faced systemic barriers to their success, but FedDev Ontario is committed to ensuring that everyone has equal access to success. Through targeted programming, the Agency is making tangible investments directly to Black community organizations to strengthen the entrepreneurial and business supports available and promote and inspire entrepreneurship, innovation and business growth.  

The Black Creek Community Health Centre is a Black-led, not-for-profit organization that delivers comprehensive healthcare services and programs to enhance community health and wellbeing in Toronto’s Black Community. It received $3 million under the Black Entrepreneurship Program to establish the Black Entrepreneurship Alliance (BEA) in collaboration with York University, to create Black-focused entrepreneurship programming across the GTA to fill visible gaps in Toronto’s business ecosystem, such as the lack of diversity in its entrepreneurial landscape. Since opening the program, the BEA has been able to advance the next generation of Black entrepreneurs by supporting nearly 180 ventures, creating over 80 jobs and generating almost $2.2 million in revenue by graduates.

Through the BEA program, Donna Gardner of Mehetta Bammies was able to increase her products’ market-readiness. Mehetta Bammies produces Jamaican style bammies (plant-based flatbreads made from cassava) from clean and nourishing ingredients, inspired by Donna’s grandmother Mehetta’s recipes. Through the BEA, the company was able to work with program experts to connect with distributors, update its packaging to comply with regulatory requirements, and develop pricing and channel distribution strategies through market research.

Jamaican Bammies and packaging
©2021 Mehetta Bammies by Taste of Jamaica.

"BEA is the real deal! There are many programs in our community seeking to help entrepreneurs launch, grow and scale their businesses. BEA makes it happen! Not only do they provide you with the necessary training, skills, and education. They provide the connections that can give you the right opportunity to network and catapult your business to the next level."

Similarly, the Afro Caribbean Business Network (ACBN) is developing the business expertise and capacity of Black founders to build scalable businesses. The ACBN, in collaboration with Sheridan College’s EDGE Entrepreneurship hub, received more than $1.3 million to create solutions to eliminate the barriers that Black entrepreneurs face. Through its programs, the not-for-profit is cultivating a community for Black business owners to cross promote their products and services, build ventures, and participate in relevant business and personal growth workshops in its network of more than 5,000 businesses across the GTA, Peel and surrounding areas. The ACBN also supports business owners with marketing and sales support, and investment readiness training so they can access capital.

Recently, the ACBN and Sheridan’s EDGE Entrepreneurship Hub launched a first-of-its-kind certificate for Black entrepreneurs in the clean tech sectors. This 10-week certificate course aims to engage Black founders with a passion to solve environmental challenges, to identify innovate solutions with market potential, and prepare them to attract funding and investment. The clean tech certificate will not only have positive impacts for Black business owners, but will ensure a cleaner and greener future for Canadians.

"The Black Founders in Cleantech program collaboration is the first one of its kind in Canada. ACBN has consistently been a leader and trailblazer in the space of collaborations and partnerships to develop innovative programs and services for our members. This program is a prime example of the power of collaboration for transformation and growth."

FedDev Ontario is proud to invest in programs like the Black Entrepreneurship Program that supports organizations like the BEA and ACBN to remove barriers to success and celebrate the positive economic impacts of Black entrepreneurs in Canada.

Since 2021, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario has invested over $93 million in almost 70 projects in the southern Ontario region, estimated to create or maintain over 5,700 jobs, and support 4,300 Black led businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs.

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