Black Enterprise Initiative brings coaching and assist to companies in N.B.

A non-profit group with a give attention to supporting Black companies is increasing to New Brunswick, and a few entrepreneurs say it is already making a distinction.

Jocelyn Stevens, the Black Enterprise Initiative’s entrepreneurship engagement supervisor for New Brunswick, mentioned the want for the sort of assist within the province has existed for years, noting it might have made a distinction to her as a enterprise proprietor. 

“I felt like after I walked within the doorways to get these helps, that it wasn’t there. … I felt alone after I had my enterprise.” mentioned Stevens. “When this chance got here up, it was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I can do that. I perceive. I lived it.”

She mentioned the Nova Scotia group determined to broaden to the opposite Atlantic provinces after 17 years of success in its dwelling province.

The Black Enterprise Initiative did a delicate launch in New Brunswick just a few months in the past, however its official launches are this week, with Moncton’s launch on Wednesday and Saint John’s on Thursday.

Stevens mentioned the Black Enterprise Initiative affords helps comparable to enterprise growth coaching which could possibly be advertising pitches or enterprise plans. She mentioned it additionally present e-commerce and technical assist together with assist in monetary areas comparable to loans and grants. 

“We’re letting the communities know, the Black communities, the companies, the individuals which are dreaming within the Black group of beginning a enterprise — we’re letting them know that BBI is there, we’re right here to assist you. We perceive you,” mentioned Stevens.

A woman posing
Rukayat Olaniyi is seen carrying one among her designs. She is the proprietor of RukkyTee Designs in Saint John, the place she creates Afrocentric designs. (Submitted by Rukayat Olaniyi)

Rukayat Olaniyi, proprietor of RukkyTee Designs in Saint John, moved to Canada from Nigeria in 2018. She began making African-inspired apparel, however confronted challenges alongside the way in which, together with the price of materials and funding for her enterprise. 

Olaniyi received concerned with Black Enterprise Initiative when it expanded to New Brunswick. She mentioned assist from the group, together with recommendation and funding, has helped along with her enterprise’ development.

She has tailored her designs and says assist for her Afrocentric clothes comes from individuals of many various cultures.

“That is what motivates me and retains me rising — rising and going,” mentioned Olaniyi. 

Religion Ashogbon is the proprietor of the Pure Gold Basis, a non-profit that works with youth aged 10-20 on productiveness and empowerment. 

She mentioned the spark for the group was when she heard from youth locally, particularly Black youth, about their experiences once they immigrated to Canada,

Ashogbon mentioned mother and father will typically deal with the immigration processes and documentation and “youngsters are carried alongside,” leaving their associates and way of life behind.

“Tradition shock is not only for others, it is also for the kids. And so they go to highschool, they’re struggling,” she mentioned. “We created a protected place for them to precise their emotions.”

A woman smiling
Religion Ashogbon, the proprietor of Pure Gold Basis, mentioned the Black Enterprise Initiative provided steering on registering her non-profit group. (Submitted by Religion Ashogbon)

The group launched in 2020 however wasn’t registered as a non-profit till 2022. Earlier than that, Ashgobon mentioned she was simply following her ardour of serving to younger individuals. 

This yr, she was linked with Stevens on the Black Enterprise Initiative and realized tips on how to register her enterprise and construct the construction round it.

Since then, Ashogbon mentioned she’s been capable of join with group leaders and supply just a few donations. She’s additionally obtained steering on constructing a board of administrators.

Ashogbon mentioned she meets with the Black Enterprise Initiative on a weekly foundation to work by the challenges. 

“It has been an incredible journey, by way of attending to broaden, by way of the assist, by way of individuals listening and listening to what I’ve to say.”

For extra tales in regards to the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success tales inside the Black group — take a look at Being Black in Canada, a CBC undertaking Black Canadians will be pleased with. You’ll be able to learn extra tales right here.