In her interview with CanadianSME Small Business Magazine, Tiffany Callender, co-founder and CEO of FACE (Federation of African Canadian Economics), discussed the evolving landscape of Black entrepreneurship in Canada and the impact of FACE’s initiatives. She highlighted the significant role of the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund in overcoming funding barriers, with over $25 million in loans disbursed to Black entrepreneurs. Beyond financial assistance, Tiffany emphasized FACE’s commitment to empowering the Black business community through educational programs, collaborations for financial literacy, and business management training. Addressing the challenges of wealth creation among Canadians of African descent, Tiffany stressed the importance of building cultural competency among leaders and policymakers to understand the community’s unique nuances. She advised aspiring Black entrepreneurs to focus on solid business planning, financial literacy, mentorship, resilience, and promoting their unique value propositions. With Black History Month raising awareness about Black economic empowerment, Tiffany envisioned a future with increased capital access, entrepreneurial education, and global competitiveness for Black-owned businesses in Canada, with FACE playing a crucial role in shaping this future.
Tiffany, since co-founding FACE, how have you seen the landscape of Black entrepreneurship evolve in Canada? What specific impacts have FACE’s initiatives, especially the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, had on the community?
There has been an increasing awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Various organizations, both government and private, have been working to support and promote Black entrepreneurs through mentorship programs, funding initiatives, and networking opportunities. Access to funding remains a significant challenge for many entrepreneurs but FACE’s efforts, particularly through the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund, have played a crucial role in providing significant financial support to Black-owned businesses. The approval and disbursement of over $25 million in loans to about 180 Black entrepreneurs in just two years reflect a substantial contribution to overcoming the funding barriers faced by these businesses. Beyond financial support, FACE has demonstrated a commitment to empowering the Black entrepreneurial community through educational programs. Producing educational materials, organizing webinars, and hosting events focused on financial literacy and business management are essential steps in building the skills and knowledge necessary for sustained business success. Our collaboration with TD Canada Trust Bank to provide grants to businesses needing support in developing business plans and financial statements is a commendable effort. These elements are indeed crucial documentation for accessing capital, and assisting businesses in this regard enhances their ability to plan and ensure continuity. FACE’s holistic approach, combining financial support with educational initiatives and collaborations, indicates a comprehensive strategy to foster the growth and sustainability of Black-owned businesses.
In your journey with FACE, what have been some of the most significant challenges you’ve encountered in striving to accelerate wealth creation among Canadians of African descent, and how have you overcome them?
In the pursuit of accelerating wealth creation among Canadians of African descent, one of the most significant challenges encountered is the need to build cultural competency and awareness among business leaders, decision-makers, and policymakers outside the Black community. The unique nuances, backgrounds, and histories of members within the Black community, many of whom are first- or second-generation immigrants, present a distinct cultural context that requires a nuanced understanding. Effective empowerment necessitates an appreciation for the diversity and richness within the Black community, emphasizing the importance of cultural awareness in fostering inclusive economic practices and policies. This challenge underscores the imperative of bridging cultural gaps to create an environment that truly supports and empowers Canadians of African descent on their journey to wealth creation. In my engagement with business leader and policy makers, I have continually advocated for cultural competency and awareness to ensure that policies and programs are not only inclusive but also designed to be genuinely beneficial to Canadians of African descent with the hope of breaking down barriers and fostering an economic landscape that acknowledges, respects, and supports the unique cultural aspects of the Black Community.
What advice would you offer to aspiring Black entrepreneurs in Canada today? Based on your experience, what are the key factors that contribute to their success and sustainability in business.
For aspiring Black entrepreneurs in Canada, several key factors contribute to success and sustainability in business. Here is some advice based on my experience:
- Develop a Solid Business Plan – A well-thought-out business plan is essential. It serves as a roadmap, helping the entrepreneur define goals, target market, and financial projections.
- Financial Literacy – Understand the financial aspects of the business. Being financially literate allows the entrepreneur to make informed decisions, manage resources effectively, and navigate funding opportunities.
- Seek Mentorship – Connect with experienced mentors who can provide guidance and share their insights. Learning from those who have navigated similar challenges can be invaluable.
- Resilience – Entrepreneurship comes with challenges. Develop resilience to overcome setbacks and learn from failures. Adaptability is key in the face of adversity.
- Promote Your Unique Value Proposition – Clearly articulate what sets your business apart. Whether it’s a unique product, service, or approach, emphasizing your value proposition is crucial for attracting customers.
As we celebrate Black History Month, how do you perceive its importance in terms of raising awareness about and supporting Black economic empowerment in Canada?
Black History Month provides an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the achievements, talents, and contributions of Black individuals in various fields, including business and entrepreneurship throughout history. Acknowledging the historical achievements of the Black community fosters a sense of pride and resilience but it also creates role models that aspiring entrepreneurs can look up to and aspire to emulate. The increased visibility and representation during the Black History Month helps challenge stereotypes, promote diversity, foster empathy, and promote systemic change. It becomes a platform to discuss and address the economic disparities and challenges faced by the Black community, advocating for policies and initiatives that promote economic empowerment.
Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of Black economic empowerment in Canada? How do you envision FACE’s role in shaping this future?
In the future, I hope to see increased access to capital for Black entrepreneurs through various funding mechanisms, loans, grants, and initiatives, contributing to the growth and sustainability of Black-owned businesses. I envision a future where there is widespread access to entrepreneurial education and support programs. These programs could include mentorship, training, and resources tailored to the needs of Black entrepreneurs. FACE will continue to promote financial education and support programs to ensure more black businesses are ready for funding while also providing the funds required to grow and sustain their businesses. I hope to see Black-owned businesses achieving global competitiveness, participating in international markets, and contributing to Canada’s reputation as a diverse and inclusive hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.