Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce workshop shows the way

By Lincoln DePradine

It’s been just over five months since the Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC) was formally inaugurated at a ceremony at Metro Hall in Toronto.

CBCC workshop participants

Since then, says founding-president Michael Forrest, there have been requests to launch CBCC) chapters in various Canadian cities, including as far away as Edmonton.

“It has been an overwhelming response from Canadians all across the country,’’ Forrest told The Caribbean Camera at a series of CBCC workshops last Saturday at North York Civic Centre.

The workshop series, which continued into Sunday, was titled the “Black Economic Development Summit: Creating A Sustainable Non-Profit’’.

Participants, drawn from various organizations, received professional expert advice, and asked questions, on topics such as using community bonds to raise funds.

“This is a project that has to inspire people,’’ one of the workshop leaders, Christopher Trotman, commented on utilizing community bonds.

Trotman, marketing manager at Tapestry Community Capital, recommended that organizations try to “diversify’’ their sources of funding, including raising money from mortgages and community bonds.

Among other topics discussed were grant writing, branding and social media, marketing strategies, and accounting.

“The Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce is really trying to help groups in the community take their business to the next level,’’ said Forrest, president of Forrest Management Group.

“We’ve seen over the years, four out of five companies in Ontario fail within the first three years. The Chamber of Commerce wants to ensure that we can find a way to help our companies become more sustainable long-term; that there’s a way to make sure they last beyond their creator’s initiative,’’ Forrest added. “When people leave here today, for example, the biggest thing I want them to really take with them is networking. Finding people that are in this room that they can exchange with and help them grow their business.’’

October is being commemorated as “Chamber Month’’, Forrest said. As part of its activities, the CBCC will be hosting a “Canadian Black Seniors’ Business Week’’.

“We recognize we have to celebrate the business people in the community, so they can actually grow more and be more prosperous long-term,’’ said Forrest.

“We want to measure the amount of black businesses there are in Canada. We think there are around 10,000. But no one knows for sure. So, we’re going to be going out and measuring exactly where Black businesses are. And, if they are not registered as yet, we’re going to encourage them to start their own companies, so they can definitely begin to prosper in this great country of Canada.’’

The CBCC is an affiliate of the U.S. Black Chambers Inc., which has more than 140 chambers in America and in excess of 300,000 members.