Brampton working to attract business talent from the Caribbean and Africa

By Lincoln DePradine

Erica Henry-Jackman

Brampton, which has committed itself to establishing a “world-class’’ city of inclusion and innovation, is looking to attract entrepreneurs from the Caribbean and Africa to achieve its development objectives.

It’s the first North American city with a coordinator – attached to Brampton’s economic development department – solely focused on attracting business talent from the Caribbean and Africa.

“It’s because of our city’s commitment to inclusiveness, innovation and entrepreneurship,’’ said Brampton official Erica Henry-Jackman. “Black-owned and Black-led businesses are making a significant impact on our mosaic.’’

Henry-Jackman is Brampton’s coordinator of foreign direct investment for the Africa and Caribbean Markets. She was one of several speakers, including Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, that delivered remarks Tuesday at a “Building Black Economic Foundation’’ conference.

The online event was hosted by Brampton’s Black, African and Caribbean Social, Cultural and Economic Empowerment and Anti-Black Racism Unit. It was supported by the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE), which describes itself as “a coalition of Black-led organizations dedicated to stimulating economic growth and creating generational wealth for Canadians of African descent’’.

Conference organizers said it was designed to “bring together experts in finance, education and community support to engage in a conversation on ensuring a more vibrant, fair and progressive economic future for Black Canadians’’.

“Together we can work to build Black generational wealth,’’ Brampton councillor Charmaine Williams told the conference, which was moderated by Gwyneth Chapman, senior advisor in the Social, Cultural and Economic Empowerment and Anti-Black Racism Unit.

Charmaine Williams

“Economic opportunities are the mechanism to overcome the challenges that many of us continue to face. Our community needs to get involved and be willing to take risks to achieve financial independence for a better future.’’

Henry-Jackman, explaining Brampton’s interest in the Caribbean, referred to it as “an amazing region’’ that includes thought leaders, thinkers, writers and artistes.

“The Caribbean is also the home to generations after generations of people who have always dreamt large,’’ she said.

“The City of Brampton’s aim is to develop cross-border strategies that would support development of ideas and technologies from the Caribbean that celebrate the cultural confidence that Prime Minister Mottley from Barbados speaks about,’’ Henry-Jackman added. “We are committed to providing an ecosystem for Caribbean start-ups that would allow them to go big, think big and to innovate.’’

In the case of Africa, Brampton “decided to change the lens’’ through which the continent is looked at, said Henry-Jackman.

“We see a big, bold and innovative Africa. The continent houses some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, and our city celebrates the ideas coming from the African continent,’’ she said.

Brampton’s goal, according to Henry-Jackman, is to “strengthen our economic relations and deliver sustainable, broad-based economic growth in both regions’’.