Black History Month is a time to reflect on where we came from as a community and use those lessons to guide our journey forward. This also applies to our journey with entrepreneurship.  

The process of building the Black Founders Network (BFN) began, in earnest, in 2021 and involved speaking one-on-one with hundreds of Black founders. One of the questions I asked each time was: “What do you need to build, grow, and/or scale your startup that you’re currently missing?” 

Surprisingly, the most common response wasn’t capital.

It was: “community”.

Black founders want to build a community with people who share their lived experience, and learn from people who have gone through it.

Efosa Obano, Program Manager, Black Founders Network
The BFN’s Efosa Obano, program manager, and Justina Kanza, program coordinator, at the Black Career Conference (BCC) pitch competition in January 2023.

Black founders want to build a community with people who share their lived experience (fellow Black founders and professionals) and learn from people who have gone through it (Black leaders, investors and mentors).

This is why we named what we built together the Black Founders Network. The community is really what brings everything else (access to capital, capacity building and resources) together, and it has been profound to see this happen in real-time as we grow. 

Over the last two years, with the support of both private and public sectors, we have also seen the launch of many new initiatives and funds with the objective of developing Canada’s Black entrepreneurship ecosystem. The collaboration between us all has been amazing, and I’ve learned a lot from our unique approaches to achieving the same goal. However, from the perspective of the community we support, we have some work to do in engaging everyone effectively. The nature of the corporate structures in which we operate inevitably creates silos, which makes it difficult for those without context to navigate the ecosystem we are creating. We often get a lot of questions about this, which is why we decided to co-host an event on February 25 aimed at helping the Black community engage with us and leverage our collective resources more effectively. We hope to see you there.  

Members of the BFN Community at the one-year anniversary celebration and BFN Accelerate cohort graduation in October 2022.
  • The Power of Community: Breaking Down the Silos in Black Entrepreneurship