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The Present of Black Entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canada

February 8, 2023

The Celebration of African Heritage Month Continues

Volta, along with the Black Business Initiative (BBI), is happy to present a limited series of articles celebrating African Heritage Month. Last week, in the first installment of this series, we talked about The Past of Black Entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canada. We discussed the significant contributions that Black entrepreneurs have made to our region and celebrated key historical figures who paved the path for Black entrepreneurs of the present and future.

This week, we'll be taking a look at Black entrepreneurs who are making a mark in our communities here and now.

Making Moves in Atlantic Canada's Black Communities

The Atlantic region is home to a thriving Black community that knows no bounds. In the last few years, we have seen an increase in Black entrepreneurship in Atlantic Canada. This growth is mainly due to a rise in education and development. The number of Black students enrolled in post-secondary institutions has increased by more than 50 percent over the past decade, according to the latest data from Statistics Canada.

From tech founders to artists and creatives, Black entrepreneurs are making their mark on the region and boosting their communities in the process. Stories of Black trailblazers abound, such as the story of Fidel Franco, whose work in the FinTech world is all about social justice and equality. Franco is the founder of Atlantic DeFi, a platform that provides access to decentralized finance services to users in Atlantic Canada. Franco has a passion for blockchain technology and its potential to democratize finance. With Atlantic DeFi, he is working to make cryptocurrency accessible to everyone, regardless of their level of technical expertise.

Another example of a Black entrepreneur disrupting the field of tech with a community-oriented approach is Nevell Provo, from Volta's alumni company Smooth Meal Prep. Smooth Meal Prep is a meal delivery service that provides healthy and delicious meal options to customers in Atlantic Canada. Provo is passionate about healthy eating and the positive impact it can have on people's lives. With Smooth Meal Prep, he is working to make it easier for people to eat well and feel their best.

Developing creative and inclusive solutions that make people feel good about themselves seems to come naturally to many Black entrepreneurs. Take the case of Christine Eruokwu and Rufina Ajalie, co-founders of United Colours of Fashion, a fashion and lifestyle brand that showcases the beauty and diversity of Black culture. The duo is passionate about promoting Black culture and empowering Black people through fashion. With United Colours of Fashion, they are working to create a platform that celebrates Black beauty and diversity.

The more we are exposed to the stories of Black entrepreneurs, the more we realize that Black entrepreneurship is not only about an individual's journey. Black entrepreneurship is about representation and boosting Black communities, like in the case of René Boudreau. Boudreau is the founder of Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia, a tourism company that provides guided tours of historical and cultural sites while highlighting the contributions of Black people in Nova Scotia. Boudreau is passionate about preserving and promoting the history and culture of Black people in Atlantic Canada and is working to educate others about their contributions to society.

Similarly, Hillary LeBlanc and Clinton Davis - creators of the Blacklantic podcast, website and media channels - are dedicating their careers to promoting Africentric content in Eastern Canada. Their work and goal are one and the same: to amplify the stories and voices of BIPOC people in Atlantic Canada and share them with the world. They believe it is important for Black content creators to be able to tell their stories to their communities on their own terms.

Aspiring Black Entrepreneurs: Believe in Yourselves

These are just a few examples of the many successful Black entrepreneurs in Atlantic Canada today. Their hard work and dedication are making a positive impact in their communities and helping to build a strong, vibrant local economy.

"As minorities, we often hear the phrase 'working twice as hard to get half as far." Use this as evidence of your resilience. A strong attitude will get you over the halfway mark and into achieving your goals" says Jocelyn Stevens, Entrepreneurship Engagement Manager at the Black Business Initiative (New Brunswick).

To all the aspiring Black entrepreneurs out there: we salute your efforts and wish you continued success in your endeavours.

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