A new training program providing skills, networking and mentorship for over 400 Black entrepreneurs across Canada was launched by the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) in conjunction with the Future Skills Centre (FSC) and the Diversity Institute.

The Black African and Caribbean Entrepreneurship Leadership (BACEL) program combines the BBPA’s successful existing instructional courses with important business and life skills coaching over a 20-month program.

Financing the innovative curriculum with $1.5 million in funding is the FSC, founded by a consortium including Ryerson University, Blueprint, and the Conference Board of Canada, and itself funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Program.

“Black entrepreneurs, especially Black youth, need BACEL to gain valuable business and life-skills,” said BBPA president Nadine Spencer. “The pandemic disproportionately impacted Black Canadians economically. Minority and newcomer populations have always faced structural barriers to starting a small business, pursuing self-employment or finding work the pandemic has only compounded this reality.” The 38-year-old BBPA Black Business and Professional Association is a charitable organization whose mission is to advance Canada’s Black community by facilitating delivery of programs that support business and professional excellence, higher education and economic development.

When the first cohort is completed, BACEL will undergo rigorous evaluation to demonstrate the economic benefits of the training to business owners from Black communities. Innovative and non-traditional business courses will meet the unique needs of Black entrepreneurs with solutions focused strategies that address systemic barriers.

“Our research continues to highlight the challenges of anti-Black racism and barriers in the system,” said Wendy Cukier, academic director of the Diversity Institute and a research lead with the FSC. “Black women entrepreneurs are doubly disadvantaged – because they also face barriers as women. This innovative, culturally appropriate and trauma-informed skills development program will not only break down barriers to advancement for hundreds of Black and other racialized business owners but will also create hundreds more jobs and strengthen communities.”

The program asserts that supporting and empowering Black entrepreneurs is a viable economic pathway that will increase economic stability in the Black community and recognizes the vast diversity existing in the Black Canadian community.

The free program is intended for entrepreneurs who identify as Black, African, African Canadian or Afro-Caribbean, of all demographics, genders and capabilities, 18 years of age or older; however, some programs are open to younger participants. There are no business requirements except the desire to gain additional knowledge and training, and each participant must complete a core course component before entering a specialized stream (for example: arts, tech, service industry).

BACEL will include coursework, mentoring, advising and supports and there may be opportunities for participants to use their skills through internship or volunteering over the course of 20 months.

For more information visit www.bbpa.org

Source: The Suburban