Black History Month is a time to reflect on where we’ve come from as a community, and use the lessons to guide our journey going forward. This also applies to our journey with entrepreneurship.
Innovations such as the traffic light, automatic elevator doors and even caller ID all sprung from the minds of creative Black founders. The first Black patent holder, Thomas Jennings, had a prototype of modern dry cleaning all the way back in 1821. However, while there have been many success stories since then, Black founders continue to face barriers that make it difficult to build and sustain successful businesses.
As recently as 2018, only 2 out of 300 grants in Canada went to Black owned businesses. As of 2020, less than 2% of venture funding raised in North America went to Black-led companies. Over the first year of the pandemic, 70% of Black-owned businesses across Canada were ineligible for the federal Canadian Emergency Business Account. These are some of the reasons we launched the Black Founders Network.
We believe we can work together to eliminate these barriers by creating an inclusive community of Black entrepreneurs at every stage of their journey, and providing the right mix of capital, capacity building and guidance relevant to each stage. A big part of the process will involve learning and unlearning, by understanding our history better.
We must intentionally engage our youth community at the top of the funnel, to set them up for success from the beginning. February is an opportunity for us to reflect, celebrate Black excellence and focus on the opportunity that lies ahead. If you have an interest in advancing the cause of Black entrepreneurship directly or as an ally, we invite you to join us here to receive updates and learn about ways to engage.