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Business summit intends to breaks barriers for Black entrepreneurs

February 24, 2022

By Vancouver Sun |

Jackee Kasandy’s “Aha moment” in reaching the conclusion she could help Black entrepreneurs to obtain a bigger voice came during the COVID pandemic when she learned her fair-trade import and retail business didn’t meet the criteria for a lot of available assistance programs.

Although she had grown to a medium-sized business before the pandemic, Kasandy had struggled to find financing, as an immigrant without a lot of collateral to show banks or funding organizations. She also knew of peers in the same situation.

“A lot of Black businesses went through that just because of the sizing (of their enterprises). Because we have to do most of our businesses as a side hustle, they don’t meet the criteria that ended up (being set up),” Kasandy said.

So, to Kasandy, part of the solution to getting Black businesses into the “ecosystem” was to create the Black Entrepreneurs and Businesses Society of Canada to bring more voices of Black-owned businesses together and get to that table where those criteria are set.

And the society is hosting its first-ever virtual summit on Feb. 24 with the dual purpose of “introducing the ecosystem to Black businesses, and Black businesses to the ecosystem,” Kasandy said.

The hope is to help “dismantle discrimination and empower the Black business community,” which has faced systemic barriers to mainstream business, according to a society media release.

Keynote speakers include playwright Trey Anthony and sports executive and former Canadian Football League star Mike (Pinball) Clemons. MP Hedy Fry will be in attendance, as will Ravi Kahlon, B.C.’s minister of jobs and economic recovery, and federal Minister of International Trade and Small Business Mary Ng.

Sponsors for the event include TD Bank, the Business Development Bank, and Export Development Canada. Anyone interested in attending can find details at Blackentrepreneursbc.org.

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