While Business Link supports entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and cultures, we acknowledge that Black entrepreneurs are an underserved population when it comes to starting and growing a business in Alberta. During this month of Black History, Business Link would like to confirm our commitment to supporting Black entrepreneurs and business owners in their effort to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem that understands their unique needs and challenges which prevent them from starting and growing a successful business across Alberta.

Audrey Allotey, Team Lead, Small Business Strategists

Small businesses have been wealth creators from time immemorial, and this includes Black businesses.

There seems to be some consciousness of diversity in the market place and this is opening up opportunities for Black businesses. In spite of considerable hurdles, Black entrepreneurs are still resilient and would go whichever mile to achieve their goals. As a mainstream customer or of Black descent, you can use your buying power to support Black-owned businesses. Supporting black-owned businesses, in turn, supports families, creates jobs for employees and grows the economy at large. Black-owned businesses often creates products and experiences inspired by the riches of the African, the Caribbean, and African-American culture and heritage. You may not need to travel very far to experience these cultures.

I have a confession to make.

As a new immigrant to Canada, I did not always understand why we needed to have a month for Black History. I was born and raised in Nigeria and I have always known my “history”; I have always heard stories of the lives and accomplishments of my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. I knew they were warriors, pioneers, entrepreneurs, firsts in their fields and industries.

Beyond my direct ancestry, I was also taught in elementary school about the many brave exploits of Nigerian heroes like Queen Moremi, Funmi Ransome – Kuti, Queen Amina of Zaria, and Madam Tinubu. I took for granted that the knowledge, surety, and confidence I had in my history and the way it shaped me were available to all. I just assumed that every Black person had the same exposure to the beauty, intelligence, and strength of heroes that were of Black heritage. I also took for granted the effect that knowing these stories had on me, I am unashamedly a strong, Black woman, and knowing the stories of those that have gone before me plays a huge part in who I am.

It was not until I moved to Canada that I realized not everyone of my skin color knew these stories or had examples of strong Black people that have done and are doing amazing things to spur them on. I interacted with some amazing young Black Canadians who opened my eyes. Their perspective changed my lenses, and I began to appreciate more the differences in the spectrum of the Black experience.

Yoyin Familusi, Director, Small Business Strategists

I am beginning to understand the need to highlight Black History and why our stories must be told. To me, Black History Month is a month of stories, that time in the year where stories are told about the many amazing contributions of black people (past and present) to the general history of the world. These stories expand my world, they connect me to a history way bigger than the one I know and helps me keep my eyes peeled for the many “Black History” moments that are happening around me every day.

Most importantly, Black History Month challenges me as a wife, mother, business professional, and entrepreneur to live a life worthy of the people who have gone before me. For me, Black History Month is every day because that is the only way to ensure that I leave an amazing legacy that will enable the generations after me to stand on my shoulders the same way I am standing on the shoulders of the amazing black achievers that have gone before me.

Business Link strives to help Black aspiring and established entrepreneurs by:

  • ensuring that our diverse team is trained to understand the unique needs and challenges that Black Entrepreneurs face so they can provide customized support;
  • providing one-on-one guidance and coaching, training and workshops, networking opportunities and referrals
  • by creating resources and tools that are built to help Black entrepreneurs overcome their unique challenges
  • providing capacity-building training to organizations across Alberta to ensure that Black entrepreneurs access resources and are supported to start and grow a business wherever they are in Alberta.

Most recently, Business Link was delighted to provide a letter of reference to Black-led organizations to support their application for Black Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Funding. We are also committed to working with those who will receive the funding to create an ecosystem that understands Black Entrepreneurs’ needs and challenges to help them succeed.

Jean-Jacques Mitakaro, Immigrant Entrepreneur Program Coordinator & Small Business Strategist