A training program providing skills, networking and mentorship for over 400 Black entrepreneurs across Canada was launched last Thursday by the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) in conjunction with Future Skills Centre (FSC), and the Diversity Institute (DI).
The first-of-its-kind Black African and Caribbean Entrepreneurship Leadership (BACEL) program combines the BBPA’s successful existing instructional courses with important business and life skills coaching over a 20-month program, with FSC investing $1.5 million in this innovative curriculum.
When the first cohort is completed, BACEL will undergo rigorous evaluation to demonstrate the economic benefits of delivering culturally appropriate, trauma-informed entrepreneurial skills training to business owners from Black communities.
Innovative and non-traditional business courses will meet the unique needs of Black entrepreneurs with solutions focused strategies that address systemic barriers. BACEL asserts that supporting and empowering Black entrepreneurs is a viable economic pathway that will increase economic stability in the Black community. BACEL recognizes the vast diversity existing in the Black Canadian community and will support the following intersectional marginalities: Women and gender diverse people; low-income Black Canadians; Official Language Minority Black Communities (OLMCs); Black people with disabilities; and Black people identifying as 2SLGBTQ +
“Black entrepreneurs, especially Black youth, need BACEL to gain valuable business and life-skills,” said Nadine Spencer, BBPA President. “The pandemic disproportionately impacted Black Canadians economically. Minority and newcomer populations have always faced structural barriers to starting a small business, pursuing self-employment or finding work the pandemic has only compounded this reality.”
“BACEL addresses the very real needs and systemic barriers faced by individuals in the Black community,” said Pedro Barata, Future Skills Centre Executive Director. “Growing the pipeline of entrepreneurs will support the skills development, training and learning that will be needed to ensure that people are not shut out of the economic recovery and can contribute to our shared prosperity in the future.”
“Our research continues to highlight the challenges of anti-Black racism and barriers in the system,” said Wendy Cukier, Diversity Institute Academic Director and a Research Lead with the Future Skills Centre. “Black women entrepreneurs are doubly disadvantaged – because they also face barriers as women. This innovative, culturally appropriate and trauma-informed skills development program will not only break down barriers to advancement for hundreds of Black and other racialized business owners but will also create hundreds more jobs and strengthen communities.”