BBI driving Black business growth and excellence

BBI driving Black business growth and excellence

< Back to Articles | Topics: Spotlight | Contributors: Mina Atia, Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Communications Coordinator | Published: September 7, 2020

At a time where systemic racism is finally in the spotlight, Black businesses are building thriving long-term relationships with the broader business community.

There’s a concern that non-black consumers and businesses slowly stop committing to supporting Black business long term after crises subside.

“Therein lies the problem; we would challenge you to ask yourself ‘why not’,” says Lydia Phillip, Training & Communications Manager at The Black Business Initiative (BBI).

“As champions and advocates for Black-owned businesses, we would be doing our clients a disservice by not challenging the inherent systemic bias of this assumption that supporting Black-owned is a trend or a charitable act,” she says.

BBI is a business development organization dedicated to supporting Black-owned businesses in Nova Scotia. Launched in 1996, the organization works with Black Nova Scotian businesses to drive their growth and overcome challenges uniquely inherent to Black Nova Scotians.

Focused on impacting the social and economic wellbeing of the province, BBI provides entrepreneurial training, partnership building with the business community, business consulting and access to financing.

Through these initiatives, the growth of a stronger Black presence in Nova Scotia’s business community is steadfast.

“We act as a catalyst for job creation, equitable participation and advancing the economic prosperity of Nova Scotia,” says Phillip.

There’s an undeniable excellence in Black-owned businesses. It’s apparent in the quality of their products, fantastic services and tremendous professionalism.

“The fact that Bin Doctor, an environmental company, or Sure Shot Dispensing, a gold standard manufacturing company, and many others can thrive in these tough times is proof of the calibre of many of Nova Scotia’s Black-owned companies,” says Phillip.

The BBI Black Business Directory provides Black business owners with free exposure, as well as resources and information for organizations in the public sector that offer entrepreneurial support. This business directory is a great tool when looking for local, Black-owned businesses offering high-quality products and services.

By connecting Black-owned business with provincial and federal support, BBI was able to help entrepreneurs and provide them with proper consultations throughout the pandemic.

“We now shift into anticipated recovery and are supporting Black-owned companies as they begin to open their doors again,” says Phillip.

"We act as a catalyst for job creation, equitable participation and advancing the economic prosperity of Nova Scotia.” — Lydia Phillip, Training & Communications Manager, The Black Business Initiative

BBI is instrumental in the success of multiple enterprises pertinent to the development of the Black community and growth of Black businesses.

It supported the refit and modernization of the Black Cultural Centre of Nova Scotia, the construction of the Black Loyalist Heritage Museum, rebuilding of Africville Church, the creation of Hope Blooms and the African Nova Scotia Music Association.

“We have seen tremendous momentum from our youth-centered charitable initiative, Business Is Jammin’ (BIJ), which empowers Black youth through the facilitation of programs supporting and encouraging youth to meet their full potential,” says Phillip.

In the last decade, BIJ has helped inspire thousands of program participants to stay in school, start up their own ventures and bring an exceptional level of professionalism to any workplace.

"Black youth who are interested in pursuing business, entrepreneurship and or social enterprise as a career option need experiences, relationships and opportunities," says Ashley Hill, Business is Jammin’ Manager.

"They need to access mentors, establish connections and have the opportunity to develop their skills."

BIJ was also the Charity of Choice at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Fall Dinner, supported by Stewart McKelvey, where they told their story to an audience of over 800.

BBI has organized Black Business Summits and other forums such as the 23 sector roundtables and trade missions for construction, music, Women in Business and cultural tourism, on top of contributing to 71 published magazines (including this one) to showcase Black entrepreneurs and business success.

During the last weekend of Re-open City (the Halifax support-local initiative), the North End Business Association organized a Black-business takeover of Gottingen Street.

Taking BLK Gottingen gave the opportunity to the storefronts on the street to allow Black businesses to operate within their establishments. It was very well received and so successful that it's being held on a reoccurring basis.

"I would encourage leaders in the business community to get involved and participate in BIJ's mentorship project, offer job shadowing opportunities, but most importantly share your story with youth.” — Ashley Hill, Manager, Business is Jammin'

That was just one way for the community to support Black businesses. However, the business community in particular can go further in its support by buying, hiring, subcontracting, using services by, joining venture support and adding Black-owned businesses to their supply chain.

“Enabling the exposure for Black entrepreneurs by connecting them with opportunities, industry mentorship, or introduction to new markets is also beneficial,” says Phillip.

“The business community should champion and advocate for Black-owned businesses to help grow awareness. Explore how your business or organization can partner or collaborate with Black-owned businesses,” she says.

On other fronts, businesses can create internship opportunities to Black students, diversify their senior management teams and boards, and donate to organizations working with Black and racialized communities during crises and year-round.

"I would encourage leaders in the business community to get involved and participate in BIJ’s mentorship project, offer job shadowing opportunities, but most importantly share your story with youth," says Hill.

"Let them know that success is possible for them, no matter what their circumstances.”

Businesses can set up fundraisers, allocate a portion of sales during times of need to those organizations and engage with Black businesses in mutually beneficial and long-lasting relationships that continue even after times of crisis.

“We continue to support and grow awareness for Black entrepreneurs, both start-ups and mature businesses, in the province,” says Phillip. “And we implore the general business community to explore how they can make a positive impact.”

Check out the BBI Black Business Directory to find, support and employ Black-owned businesses in Nova Scotia.

< Back to Articles | Topics: Spotlight

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