To some, celebrating Black History Month can feel like an invitation to look into the past. But as Efe Fruci, Program Manager with the Black Entrepreneurs & Businesses of Canada Society (BEBC) points out, “There are so many things in the past that still exist in the present.”
“If we don’t fix the pain of the past, we can’t be fully in the present” says Efe. “We have to be brave enough to look at the past—and the present—to create a stronger foundation for the future.”
the future belongs to today’s entrepreneurs
So how do you learn from the past, confront the present and dream of a new future, all at once? One way is by listening to, supporting and backing Black entrepreneurs.
While Black business owners face many of the same challenges as other entrepreneurs (including uncertain economic climates and the work of juggling sales, marketing and administration) they also face myriad additional challenges rooted in systemic racism.
According to a 2021 report by the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce, almost three-quarters of Black business owners bootstrapped their businesses— meaning they raised money from their community or funded it themselves. This is largely due to barriers accessing institutional credit.
“Racial awareness is like an armour we have to wear,” says Efe. “But there is a shift happening. Everybody has value to offer. Everybody has an impact to make in the world. It just depends on the avenues we choose to make it.”
This is where organizations like BEBC come in.
celebrating and growing Black businesses
BEBC provides a unified platform for advocating and supporting Black entrepreneurs and businesses in Canada. In addition to advocacy, they help facilitate access to financing and access to social procurement and certification. It also provide advisory and mentorship services to its members.
Founder and CEO Jackee Kasandy recently told Global News that BEBC, and offerings like its upcoming virtual summit, are all about opening doors to business opportunities. Jackee operates a store for jewelry and other handmade, ethically sourced wares.
“We are in Black history, but I want us to celebrate the future of what blackness looks like in Canada” she told Global.
choose Black partners
The simplest way to support Black businesses is to give them your business – period. And it’s important that we do this not just in February, but in March, April, and all year round. Fortunately, BEBC also operates a Black Business Directory, showcasing Black-led businesses from across Canada, though primarily from BC so far. It’s a great way to find and give your business to Black companies in a conscious way.
If you live and work in the Vancouver area (unceded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm Musqueam, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Squamish, and səlilwətaɬ Tsleil-Waututh territories), there are some great Black-led agencies that deliver services that are similar or complementary to what we do at Spur. Here are a just a few businesses you might check out — not just now, but in the months and years to come:
- Crue App – Professional copywriting and social media marketing services
- The Thoughtful Workplace – Business and leadership coaching
- Qooltura Creative Services – Web design, graphic design and creative content services
join the summit Feb 24-25
If you are a Black business owner —or are interested in connecting with one—check out BEBC’s upcoming Black Business Summit. Entrepreneurs can access tips and insider advice from a variety of experts to help their businesses thrive. It’s also a chance to network with the Black business community at a grand scale, with opportunities to connect with government, banks, investors, universities and mentors.
The summit promises to be a celebration of Black business greatness–present and future. And as Efe so beautifully put it, “There is greatness all around us. It’s just a matter of opening our eyes to it.”
We hope to see you there.