B2B Magazine Expansion Edition Fall 2022_issue 74

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2022FALL Building stronger Black businesses in the Atlantic POSSIBILITIESEXPANDINGprovincesTHE

w w w . b u s i n e s s i s j a m m i n . c a EMPOWERING YOUTH THROUGH ENTREPRENEURSHIP B U S I N E S S I S J A M M I N ' ( B I J ) I S B B I ' S C H A R I T A B L E I N I T I T A V E . B I J P R O V I D E S T H E O P P O R T U N I T I E S , R E S O U R C E S A N D M E N T O R S H I P N E E D E D F O R Y O U N G P E O P L E T O D E V E L O P L E A D E R S H I P A N D E N T R E P R E N E U R S H I P S K I L L S . B U S I N E S S I S J A M M I N ' F o r y o u t h a g e s 8 3 0 Business is Jammin’ @bijyouth@bijyouth@bijyouth

16 Message from the Board of Directors 4 Message from the CEO 5 COVER STORY: Expanding the Possibilities 6 IN MEMORIAM: Sean O’Regan 10 TRAILBLAZERS René Boudreau 11 Niyi Adeogun 13 Andrew Holmes 15 BUSINESS IS JAMMIN’ BIJ Partner – SMU Entrepreneurship Centre 12 BIJ Report 30 BUSINESS COMMUNITY PROFILES Zandra Kierstead – KV Family Counselling 23 Jenny James – Bryte Bookkeeping 24 Belinda and Gary Robinson –Kool Reggae Restaurant 25 FEATURES The Power of You – Youth Summit Recap 16 Entrepreneur Tool Kit – Bookkeeping and Tax Tips 20 Making History – Lockview High’s First African Nova Scotian Valedictorian 22 BBI NEWS Meet the Staff 14 EEM Report 19 Training Report 27 SBCCI Report 27 Ask the BBI – Q&A 28 BBI Partner Showcase – Futurpreneur 29 ContentsFALL2022 On the Photomontagecover: by Barbara Raymont FALL 2022 / Issue 74 FALL2022 Building stronger Black businesses in the Atlantic POSSIBILITIESEXPANDINGprovincesTHE 156 Black to Business Black to Business is the official periodical of The Black Business Initiative. Its goal is to support the BBI as it fosters a dynamic and vibrant Black presence within the Nova Scotia business community. For advertising information, rates, submitting story ideas, notices or community events, and for more information, call: 40026687CanadaE-mail:TollFax:Phone:Halifax,SuiteCentennialTheBarbaraGraphicArtandSeniorLindaSalesCarolContributingMonicaManagingS.I.EditorThePublisher:advertising@bbi.ns.ca902-426-8683BlackBusinessInitiativeinChief:RustumSouthwellEditor:MutaleEditor:DobsonManager:GourlayDirectorCreativeDesignProduction:ShawnDaltonDirector:MikeCugnoDesigner:RaymontBlackBusinessInitiativeBuilding910,1660HollisStreet,NovaScotiaB3J1V7902.426.8683902.426.8699Free:1.888.664.9333bbi@bbi.ns.caPostMailAgreement bbi.ca BlackBusinessNScompany/black-business-initiativebbi_atlanticblackbusinessns 3BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 2022

As we move forward, we remain focused on our core commitments. Our continued partnerships with Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI), the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and nationally with the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE) and Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) help us create opportunities for Black entrepreneurs to thrive.

The expansion is supported by the Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP) in partnership with the Government of Canada and financial institutions. Being the longest-serving Black business development organization in Canada, and with the successful national implementation of the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative (SBCCI) – as well as our trusted relationships with community and government — BBI was selected as the organization to deliver the BEP over the next four years.

There have been many highlights over the last six months.

We held a community conversation event with the Honorable Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development and the provincial organizations that received funding through the SBCCI. This created the space for open dialogue where people were able to share their organizations’ progress and their needs directly with the Minister.

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Message from the Board of Directors

For the past five years, we have been strategic about organizational growth and capacity as we looked at where we were and where we want to be in the next decade. Hitting the ground running in 2022, we knew it was going to be an energizing and full year ahead. For more than 25 years, the BBI has been serving Nova Scotia’s Black entrepreneurs, committed to growing a dynamic and vibrant presence of Black-owned businesses in the province. This vision has guided our work and our ability to positively influence the business culture in Nova Scotia — and I am very proud to say the BBI has expanded operations throughout Atlantic Canada.

I am greatly appreciative of Rustum’s leadership, as well as the dedication of the board and staff teams. All these pieces together — our funders, partners and organizational team — are instrumental to the success of BBI.

According to BBI’s Impact of COVID-19 on African Nova Scotian Businesses Survey Report released last year, the pandemic has hit Black-owned businesses harder, amplifying the already existing challenges experienced by Black entrepreneurs. This “new normal” has the potential to widen socio-economic gaps, which will demand even more resilience from a community built on it.

BBI News

Business is Jammin’ (BIJ) continues to deliver on youth programming and new ways to engage young entrepreneurs and leaders across the province. The BBI distributed more than $7 million in direct funding to Black-led and Black-serving community organizations through the SBCCI.


Nova Scotia has a significant and longstanding, historic Black presence which drives the need for organizations like the BBI in the province — but there is a rising need to support Black business owners and Black-led organizations across Canada. Historically, we have seen a lack of access to capital and resources.

The BEP aims to strengthen the existing support for Black entrepreneurs in Nova Scotia, as well as expand services to Black business owners in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. BBI’s history and past successes give us the ability to easily scale our model elsewhere. Expanding our reach has long been a pillar of our strategic planning, and it is rewarding to see it come to fruition.

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As the world emerges from the past two years of the pandemic, one way to look at what we have experienced is to look at it as a time of a great reset, a chance we will probably never see again. This great reset has led the Black Business Initiative to emerge, bigger, stronger, and excited about moving into its second quarter century.

On a personal note, I must mark the passing of one of the BBI’s closest friends and advisors, Sean O’Regan, earlier this year. Not only was he a valued friend but he was possessed of one of the finest business minds in our province and freely shared his knowledge and intelligence with the BBI on many occasions. His passing has left a huge hole in the business and cultural community in our province. Despite uncertain times and loss, BBI is ready to continue emerging from the pandemic energized, excited, and ready to continue to move forward into our next 25 years, thanks to our community, our supporters, our funders, our board, and especially our staff.

This past year has been a year of exceptional growth for the BBI as we have been able to finally turn our vision of being a resource for Black-owned businesses throughout the Atlantic region into reality. We now have physical offices in Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick that, along with our Nova Scotia presence, serve all four Atlantic Provinces, with the Newfoundland office serving our community on Prince Edward Island.

Additional funding dedicated in the latest federal budget allowed the BBI to distribute a total of $8.5 million directly to Black community organizations. This grant funding has helped historically underfunded Black-led and Black-serving organizations, allowing them to provide professional development to their teams, identify new strategic activities, move to bigger venues, generate revenue, and grow their organizations. Not only have we expanded past our home province of Nova Scotia, but we have also joined national partners to collaborate and provide insight to like-minded organizations across the country to enable them to move their mandates forward.

Message from the CEO

During the last weekend of July, the BBI was proud to be part of the third National Black Canadians Summit, hosted by the Michaëlle Jean Foundation. It was a combination of presentations, workshops, panel discussions, vendors’ booths, artists’ exhibits and performances of poetry and music. More than 1200 participants filled our Nova Centre, and the event concluded with the presentation of the Halifax Declaration, a culmination of the exchange of ideas and recommendations from the weekend.

As you read these pages, you will learn of the exciting alliance we have forged through the expansion of the SBCCI program.

BBI,S.I.Respectfully,RustumSouthwellFoundingandInterim CEO

The past two years have been a time to evaluate how business works. Some of our clients were able to embrace the new reality by pivoting to online and additional new delivery modes; other business models were not as adaptable. We discovered people could successfully work remotely from their homes using new technologies.

Three years ago, who ever heard of Zoom? Today it’s a part of our daily lives both for business and personal use.

Now, after years of calling Nova Scotia home, the BBI has recently extended that same support to the rest of Atlantic Canada. BBI’s CEO Rustum Southwell says this has been a long time “Ironically,coming.in 2016, we had spoken about expanding our reach in terms of a vision,” Southwell said. “What is now in place as a Black entrepreneur program is exactly what we were saying in The2016.”BBIhas been selected to administer the federal government’s Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP) in Atlantic Canada. Its mandate is to strengthen and broaden existing support for Black businesses and entrepreneurs in Nova Scotia and to expand services and programs to all four Atlantic provinces.

The BEP is a partnership between the Government of Canada, Black-led business organizations, and financial institutions. It is intended to assist Black Canadian business owners and entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and succeed in the future by offering an investment of up to $160M over four years, including $130M from the Business Development Bank of Canada and $30M awarded to the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE) by the federal government. Thanks to this funding, the BBI can now offer its services in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. The BBI will have a physical presence in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador – as well as support for Black entrepreneurs on PEI – in the form of two Entrepreneurship Engagement Managers (EEMs). Multiple services are now being offered across Atlantic Canada. These include increased access to funding, procurement, supply chains, scaling opportunities, entrepreneurial development, business skills training, and business development support, which includes counselling and advising.

Building stronger Black businesses in the Atlantic provinces EXPANDING POSSIBILITIESTHE

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S.I. Rustum Southwell BBI, Founding and Interim CEO

By Feleshia Chandler

For the past 25 years, the Black Business Initiative (BBI) has dedicated itself to supporting Black entrepreneurs by helping them grow and enter the mainstream business ecosystem.

Chiedza Jones BBI Director, Corporate Strategy, Research, and

There will also be more access to information, resources, mentorship opportunities, communications, marketing, and promotional strategies for businesses, as well as youth entrepreneurship programming through Business is Jammin’ (BIJ).

Although the BEP is a four-year investment, the BBI plans to continue offering these kinds of services across Atlantic Canada even after the program has ended. Chiedza Jones, the BBI’s director of corporate strategy, research, and communications, says while an array of services will be available across Atlantic Canada, BBI is giving careful consideration to how programs will be administered. She says the Black entrepreneurial landscape in Nova Scotia may not look the same as the business landscapes in other provinces. Therefore, it will look at different ways to get people the help they need, regardless of location.


Now, after years of calling Nova Scotia home, the BBI has recently extended that same support to the rest of Atlantic Canada, something the BBI’s CEO Rustum Southwell says has been a long time coming.

The BBI has been selected to administer the federal government’s Black

GROWallservicesScotiaentrepreneursBlackexistingstrengthenCanada.ProgramEntrepreneurship(BEP)inAtlanticItsmandateistoandbroadensupportforbusinessesandinNovaandtoexpandandprogramstofourAtlanticprovinces. BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 20227

Controlling data and doing work well is going to ultimately depend on Artificial Intelligence and technology, so that’s one of the areas that we’re pushing. It’s so important we let the leaders in our community and business owners understand that business is not easy, and it’s not a given. So, you can be as hardworking as could be. [If] you don’t have the technology, you can fail.— Rustum

“The approach we’ve taken is a combination of looking at building relationships with Black businesses in the other provinces, Black partners, as well as service providers who are supporting Black entrepreneurs,” Jones said. “But we are also taking the approach of a needs assessment, which is currently underway to make sure that we have a better understanding of the needs of Black entrepreneurs and Black businesses in the other provinces in Atlantic Canada.”

Njabulo Nkala Director of Innovation & Growth; BEP Project Lead

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In 2012 TYSON BYARD approached CBDC Guysborough to help him get his business off the ground. The CBDC provided financing to help him buy his first truck and the business has continued to grow since then. “The support from the CBDC was appreciated, they are a great bunch of people to work with.”


Jones says the BBI has been looking into modernizing the onboarding or intake processes for businesses, including making it an online application – to streamline the application process. This goal was achieved when the new BBI website launched in August, featuring a fillable intake form.

Southwell says the BBI will also be, from now on, trying to set realistic expectations when it comes to the challenges many business owners will encounter when starting their own organization or company.

“So [we’re] building a platform where we can also see other organizations that may be interested in being funders have a Black-led, Black-built platform they can actually host their grants on.” Looking further ahead, Southwell says the BBI is focusing on strengthening its existing team to ensure that even after he retires, the organization will continue to flourish and help as many Black entrepreneurs as possible.

“It’s so important we let the leaders in our community and business owners understand that business is not easy, and it’s not a given,” Southwell said. “So, you can be as hardworking as could be. [If] you don’t have the technology, you can fail.”

Financing, Training, Advice. Learn how the CBDC can help you start or expand a business cbdc.ca | 1-888-303-2232

Tyson says owning your own business has its challenges, it’s a bit of a love/hate relationship, but he’s proud to be able to provide employment for people in his area. With five trucks on the road, the Tyson Byard Trucking logo can be found across the Maritimes delivering anything from lumber to fish to construction materials. If you see him on road, give him a wave!

Jones says the BBI is also working on an online platform, as a part of the Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative (SBCCI). SBCCI was created by the federal government through Employment and Social Development Canada.

Southwell says there will now also be an added focus on tracking trends among Black businesses in order for the BBI to better understand the programs and services which will need to be offered in the future.

He says that because we are living in a digital age many of the companies the BBI supports are service-based – such as construction, retail, and food service – and because those are often high-risk fields, they need to better understand the modern technological needs of these “Controllingbusinesses.dataand

doing work well is going to ultimately depend on Artificial Intelligence and technology, so that’s one of the areas that we’re pushing,” he says.

“The SBCCI platform we’re building [is] where not-for-profit organizations that are Black-led and Black-serving can come together to share ideas and collaborate,” Jones said. She says the same online platform would also be for grants.

2010 We’re here to support business.your Whether you are new to exporting, expanding to new markets, or looking to grow your diverse export business, NSBI can help. Contact

at sjackson@nsbi.ca to learn more. nsbi.ca/businesses-diversity BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 202210

On March 10, 2022, the O’Regan family experienced the unexpected passing of Sean O’Regan, age 53. Sean was a son, brother, husband, and father. He was also a titan of the Nova Scotia business community. At the time of his death, Sean was president and CEO of O’Regan’s Automotive Group. With Sean at its helm, O’Regan’s was lauded locally and nationally for business excellence. Sean was also named Businessperson of the Year by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce in 2009.

Sean and Mike Duck kick off the 2010 BBI Summit Sean at the BBI 15th Anniversary Gala in 2011 23 Feb. 1969 – 10 Mar. 2022 to is building the right team and keeping it intact.” Sean O’Regan, Scottina Jackson, Export Development Executive,

“The key

Sean was a familiar face at BBI events; he donated his time by participating in the opening session of the 2010 BBI Summit. He received rave reviews for his contributions, during which he emphasized the importance of efficiency, improving the customer experience, and having faith in one’s employees. BBI is grateful to Sean for his wisdom, generosity, and friendship through the years. We join his family, loved ones and colleagues in keeping his legacy alive.

Sean had both a keen business mind and a giving heart. He supported countless organizations, including the Black Business Initiative. In addition to being a faithful corporate sponsor, Sean was a friend of the BBI and its CEO, Rustum Southwell.


In Memoriam Sean O’Regan

Boudreau has been around the world — from Atlanta, GA to the Turks and Caicos. On her journeys, she noticed a strange recurrence. No matter where she went, it seemed to be a regular assumption that there were few, if any, Black people in Nova Scotia. “I got thinking, there’s obviously some gaps in our tourism industry — a lack of representation of the Black people who are here.”

Since the business’ inception, Boudreau has offered numerous events, many of which have sold out. In 2020, Boudreau offered a Black history cycling tour by collaborating with I Bikes, a waterfront-based business that provides bike and equipment rentals for bike-related adventures. “That was one of the very first tours that I curated,” she said.

and experiences. I always make sure that I have Black history and Black culture at the centre of everything I do.”

“Oftentimes, we have these great ideas, and we think they need to be perfect before we actually start. To start and believe in the vision was probably the biggest success for me personally.”

“We partner with different organizations, businesses and tour operators to curate tours and experiences. I always make sure that I have Black history and Black culture at the centre of everything I do.”


“I was trying to create something that shows more representation and creates awareness.”

Instagram: @elevateandexploreblackns

She is doing it one event at a time via her travel community and her business, Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia.

“I started right before the pandemic. Most people would say it’s not the best time to start a tourism business but, personally, I feel like it was the perfect timing, simply because I started at a time when I was able to focus more on the locals and people who might have never really explored the province at all.”

“I wasn’t registered or anything at that point, but that’s when I made my first Instagram post,” Boudreau says. She has also taken on the ‘influencer’ role, curating social media posts for the organization.

Website: elevateandexploreblackns.squarespace.com/

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Boudreau kicked off her business by hosting local tours around the city but has since collaborated with other local businesses and partners.

The second annual Black Excellence Boat Cruise was held on August 6, 2022 aboard the Tall Ship Silva Boudreau’s other accomplishments include hosting a wellness retreat in collaboration with Rajean Willis, a Halifax clinical social worker, successful businesswoman and social justice advocate. They’ve also collaborated on a sold-out wine tour for Black women.

Boudreau started Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia in 2019 having no experience in the travel industry. What she lacked in industry knowledge, she made up for with her determination to change how the world sees how the Black community lives in this province.

The tour was in conjunction with Grape Escapes Nova Scotia Wine Tours, a business providing a variety of tours to Nova Scotia’s winery region.

On the tour, guests were able to experience sights, music and food inspired by Black excellence. The event included live music by Halifax’s Jah’Mila, the daughter of legendary roots reggae guitarist Earl “Chinna” Smith, and a Bahamian street parade performance.

Boudreau says getting to this point has been a great journey, and finding the courage to make the leap into the tourism industry has been a major milestone for her.

Boudreau says she hopes to expand Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia and make it her fulltime job. “I would love to have my own bus to do my own tours. I would love to have my own office space. I would love to have my own Airbnb,” she says. “To be able to host people who are coming here, that’s one of my goals, as well as to eventually have a Boudreauproperty.”saysshe’s focusing on expanding her team and getting all the necessities in place to strengthen her business.

“We partner with different organizations, businesses and tour operators to curate tours

René Boudreau

By Feleshia Chandler |

“The biggest thing right now is building a team and having more consistent, sustainable partnerships.”

“Through my travels, oftentimes people would ask me where I’m from,” she said, “And when they learn I’m from Nova Scotia, they’re shocked.”

Boudreau says African Nova Scotians have been living in the province for more than four centuries and there is a rich and unique history of the culture here, of which many are unaware. She saw an opportunity to change that. At the same time, she could expose Black Nova Scotians to their own culture, attract other Black people from across the world to the province, as well as educate non-Black tourists and locals alike.

Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia

On the tour, she was able to guide a group from Halifax’s waterfront to the site of the iconic, historic Black community of Africville, near the Bedford Basin.

Halifax-born entrepreneur and travel enthusiast René Boudreau is on a mission to challenge global misconceptions about the lack of Black communities in the Maritimes.

In 2021, Boudreau partnered with one of Canada’s largest sightseeing companies, AmbassatoursGray Line, to offer a boat tour that she dubbed the Black Excellence Boat Cruise. For this tour, she also collaborated with Change is Brewing, a BIPOC collective promoting diversity and inclusion in the craft beverage industry.

Photo by Elise & Nicolas Photography

The youth summit was not the first time Saint Mary’s has been generous with its space and time.

Photos contributed BIJ’s Vimbayi Handara with Adam Khamis of the SMUEC BBI staff receive entrepreneurship training from Matt McPhee (third from left) of the SMUEC to

By Amber Fryday

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“Thus far, we’ve had good attendance for the events we planned at Saint Mary’s. We want to bring the community together and that’s the partnership we wish to continue with them. Hopefully, some of these things, such as the Financial Literacy Week we planned could become something that’s annual and will always be held around Black History Month,” she says.

Over the past 25 years, the centre has worked to enhance the community’s prosperity by helping business and student leaders reach their entrepreneurial potential. SMUEC is recognized regionally, nationally, and globally for its programs, and supports leaders through consulting, training, promoting entrepreneurship, and cultivating community connections.

In February, during a week-long program for Black History Month, the Entrepreneurship Centre together with BIJ brainstormed ways to promote financial literacy to the community and decided to collectively host a financial literacy week.

“They do a lot of amazing work at the Entrepreneurship Centre,” said youth summit organizer Vimbayi Handara. “So, by their allowing us just to be in their space, we cut a lot of costs and were able to support as many students as we had to because it has a really big auditorium. So that was really, really great.”

“There isn’t a point where students learn how to manage their money per se. No one tells you what percentage of your salary should go towards saving; what should go towards spending time with friends, so we wanted to cover the fundamentals,” Handara says. Saint Mary’s University staff helped facilitate the event and had a hand in everything from hanging signage to helping with registration. Two staff members conducted workshops with students. One was about entrepreneurship while another featured how to perfect an ‘elevator pitch.’

Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre

Progress Through Partnership

One of Business is Jammin’s (BIJ) most frequent collaborators is the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre (SMUEC).

BIJ has developed a great relationship with SMUEC. Notably, the centre recently offered up auditorium space – free of charge – for BIJ to host its second, biennial youth summit.



“There are many creatives all over the Atlantic provinces who can’t access funding, I think it’s a positive thing to have organizations that can speak for us and direct some more funding our way.”

Photo by Robin Gislain Shumbusho Business Instagram: @zeroresistancebrand Website: zeroresistance.co

He is happy to learn about the Black Business Initiative’s recent expansion across Atlantic Canada. He believes it will make a significant impact.

Niyi Adeogun’s love of creativity and art led him to start his business, Zero Resistance Studio, a multi-media creative studio specializing in graphic Adeogun,design.23,knows

He had planned to do his Halifax art show in 2020, but the pandemic struck and travel restrictions were in place.

Adeogun plans to expand his brand to include all forms of media and arts, ranging from fashion, music, movies, production and graphic design services, but is conscious of barriers to funding. “Being an immigrant, there are so many opportunities that we can’t access because we don’t have a permanent residence status. There were opportunities I couldn’t be a part status. Especially in the Atlantic provinces, there’s not a lot of funding available for Black creatives.”

His most recent art show in Halifax, Nova Scotia, themed “Come As You Are” was his way of spreading not just his faith, but love and hope.

it’s tough to run a business. He first tried starting one in 2015 with a group of friends.

Niyi Adeogun | By

“The general message behind “Come As You Are,” is to help people see God in the midst of their trial. And to create a space where regardless of who you are, your background, your trials and issues you have faced in life, this is a safe place for you to be,” he said.

His goal was to get better at graphic design. He challenged himself to design a poster daily and post it online to improve his skills.

“I got a little bit more confident in my work and I got a lot of comments on that. People were saying the poster designs would look really good on a T-shirt and a hoodie.”

“I began to hear God speak to me. He began to talk to me about using my art to express his love and nature to others. I took it upon myself to make it my mission — to use my art to inspire hope and help break misconceptions of who God is.”

Since starting Zero Resistance, Adeogun has made more than 500 sales. He is working to start a not-for-profit organization where a certain percentage of his brand’s revenue will be used to fight global hunger. Onyinye Vivian Ulinwa

Today, he is gaining recognition across Atlantic Canada and he is planning to promote his art across cities in Canada like Toronto.


Trailblazers: Zero Resistance: Spreading hope through fashion

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“I was very inspired by that growing up. That kind of sparked my love for design and everything that revolves around the arts.” He attended an arts competition while in high school. Upon seeing his fellow students’ art on display, Adeogun was extremely discouraged. He concluded that art just wasn’t for him.

Adeogun didn’t want to repeat the same mistake he made in 2015 with his old brand, so he took a step back from the art scene until 2017 when he moved to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island from Lagos, Nigeria to study Sustainable Design Engineering.

So, he thought of printing some of his designs on shirts, hoodies and tote bags for sale, but didn’t have the capital to start. He subsequently applied for the Rising Youth art grant, a program led by TakingITGlobal, an organization that helps young people with community-service-inclined projects. He didn’t think his application would be accepted, but he received a $750 grant to launch his art business, Zero Resistance Studio. “I had the money, I couldn’t back down. I remember going to one of the buildings in UPEI (University of Prince Edward Island) and I sat down there for seven hours straight, and I designed the entire collection.”

Adeogun hails from a Christian background; he believes he has a calling to express the true nature of God through his work. That is what he is doing with Zero Resistance.

“Unfortunately, the business didn’t pull through because there were a lot of things that we didn’t know. We just kind of went in without any form of knowledge or experience on how to operate.” It wasn’t until he tapped into his passion for art that Adeogun found his business niche.

Still, Adeogun is happy he was able to do it this year. He was amazed by the warm welcome he received. “We sold about 65-70 percent of the products we took there. For a new place where we have never done a show, it definitely met our expectations.”

Adeogun was five when he began developing a strong love for art by observing his aunt creating different art pieces with broomsticks and rocks.

“I always see a T-shirt, or anything clothes-related as a blank canvas, and I think of what message I can pass along through this. With that understanding, I’m able to put the brand’s message into each collection.”

His most recent art show, themed Come As You Are, was his way of spreading not just his faith but love and “Thehope.general message behind Come As You Are is to help people see God in the midst of their trial.”

Adams Photography Brianna Basque Photography

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Stevens has been a strong advocate of cultural diversity in New Brunswick for many years. Her passion to end racism, coupled with her interests in cultural competency, led Stevens to the development of many successful programs aimed towards helping students in local schools understand the importance of respecting others and their differences. She has worked tirelessly to bring about change and make our world a more accepting, inclusive place. She is an active volunteer in her community, and serves on a variety of committees and boards. Her most recent endeavour is working towards the advancement of marginalized children and recipient of the YWCA — Women of Distinction Award, in recognition of her outstanding involvement in community volunteering and helping to shape the lives of others in the community.

He is jack of all trades — a part-time photographer and videographer, a semi-retired musician, a dedicated Arsenal supporter, a binge-watching Netflixer, amateur political commentator, and an on-call TV host. One thing that is important to him is being a community organizer. He is committed to combatting anti-Black racism, creating a clearer pathway to permanent residency for immigrants, accessible education, and community building. His work within the community is recognized through various awards as he strives to impact Black youth within his community through his volunteer work.

Jocelyn Stevens is a New Brunswicker who brings passion and experience to her position as the Entrepreneurship Engagement Manager for the Black Business Initiative’s New Brunswick region.

Meet the Staff Precious EntrepreneurshipFamilusiEngagement Manager, NL and PEI Precious Familusi’s motto is “Four continents and counting” because he plans, hopefully, to live on all continents in his lifetime (well…perhaps with the exception of HisAntarctica).adventures around the world begin with his roots in Lagos, Nigeria. This led to his passion for connecting with people from diverse backgrounds and different cultures before making Newfoundland and Labrador his home.

Meet the Staff Jocelyn EntrepreneurshipStevensEngagement Manager, NB

Familusi is constantly looking for the opportunity to try out new food, especially cuisine created by Black-owned businesses. His passion for supporting Black-owned businesses is the driving force for wanting to be an Entrepreneurship Engagement Manager with the Black Business Initiative.

Prior to her recent accomplishments as an entrepreneur, she spent more than15 years in the non-profit sector serving as a managing director. She was committed to advancing the social and economic lives of members of Black and immigrant communities. Stevens’ background in policy and program development garnered her an invitation to the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland. There, she presented statements on recommendations that promoted the full cultural, social, and economic participation of minorities. Stevens has also been employed by a communications company with responsibilities as a customer service representative, then as a trainer for the company’s new start-up division.


“With the first $9,000 I felt no ownership of that money because it happened way too quickly. I never started this as a means of profit. It wasn’t like I needed to sell some shirts to pay the bills. I needed to get a message out there to help people think differently about some of the decisions they make. Whatever comes of this needs to go back into the initial feeling of promoting love and telling more Black stories.”

The shocking reality of how alive and vicious racism is shook him to his core. Holmes realized his children, both under five years old, were too young to have a conversation on its complexities. Instead, he recorded a video speaking to them as if they were teenagers and giving them advice in the future to make sure no matter what hardships they face they can always ‘put love over it’.

Holmes donated that first $9000 to his church and PRUDE (Pride of Race, Unity, and Dignity through Education) Inc., an organisation dedicated to helping local minority communities. To Andrew, getting the message out was always more valuable than any amount of money made from selling the shirts.

“When I saw the news clip, it brought up memories of my own upbringing and dealing with racism,” he says. “It reminded me, this level of hatred has not gone away. I’m in the position where I’m a father now. I have two children who are going to come up against this, whether it be racism or bullying of any kind. As a father, I have the responsibility to have this conversation with them one day.”

The real win is the people. A powerful message of Black excellence, fatherly love, and entrepreneurship all rooted in and empowered by community support. Holmes Thandiwe McCarthy


The YouTube video went viral. People loved the message of putting love over hatred. Holmes knew he had something special and considered making T-shirts but put the idea off due to his already busy lifestyle.

“When as I was growing up, there were narratives I would hear about Saint John, or even New Brunswick, as being a have-not area. As I started getting older and sharpening my own skills, I started realizing if I wanted Saint John to be a have city, there’s no reason why I can’t participate in that. I don’t think there should be any reason why I can’t do what I want to do here. This city has given me so much because I’m from here. Why do I have to leave to make my dreams come true?

BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 202215

The next day he received an email from a man who came up with a design for his message. Holmes rushed to meet him the same day to make the shirts available for “Wesale.ended up taking 300 orders, selling $9,000 worth of shirts in 11 days. We were overwhelmed with the demand and didn’t know what to do. We had to pivot to the largest production facility in Atlantic Canada. They reached out to me the exact same day I was praying for an answer. They said, ‘We want to do this for free, ship them for you, and we are even going to set up a website to handle the orders.’”

“My mission is not to sell a bunch of shirts. My mission is to introduce the concept of choosing love, in every situation of your life. That mission can be accomplished any day by even one person. All the time people will message me and be like, ‘Oh, I saw your message and it really helped me to forgive this person. Or it helps me see value in myself. Or it helped me to understand where this person was coming from’ — and that’s the win. That’s where I feel like I’m really doing something. Yes, I feel like, ‘What an opportunity to partner with the CHL’ — but the real win is in the people.”

Holmes’ message of love and community has become so powerful he was able to partner with the Canadian Hockey League to provide every junior hockey player at the Memorial Cup in late June with a custom shirt.

Photography Business Website loveoverit.com Social Media Facebook: loveoverit Instagram: love.over.it Twitter: loveoverit

“I made a quick video with my phone. It was four minutes — basically, giving my advice on this situation as if I was talking to my kids when they were older. My instruction was ‘you’re going to put love over it’. Love being, you know, peace and joy. Not choosing to react in a vengeful way with rage and anger. Keeping yourself peaceful in your own heart and ending the cycle of battling hate with more hate.”



After witnessing a man scream racist words at Black Lives Matter protesters on the news in a city close to his, father and marketer Andrew Holmes of Saint John, New Brunswick came up with the powerful message of ‘putting love over it’.


Trailblazers: Love Over It instruction was ‘You’re going to put love over it’.... yourself peaceful in your own heart and ending the cycle of battling hate with more hate.”

Photo by Weekes

| By

This strong sense of community started at a young age for Holmes. When he was growing up in Saint John, he had the privilege of being a Little Brother in the Big Brothers Big Sisters organisation. “I had a Big Brother when I was young, and it was a great experience. It really helped me to look at someone who gave their free time to me and left a positive impression. So, when I became 21, I thought, ‘I’m old enough now, I can make an impact on my own.’ That’s what led me to become a Big Brother myself, which led me, in turn, to being a member of the board. Then it led me to be on other boards. I really like this whole giving back thing. So yeah, it’s just been ingrained in me because this community has given me so much.” He has given much of his free time to volunteering in the community and making sure the narrative of New Brunswick being a “have-not” province is erased from the minds of the next generation.

SECOND BIENNIAL SUMMIT FOR THE POWER OF BBI Staff with SMU President Robert Summerby-Murray Facilitator Adam Khamis, SMU Entrepreneurship Centre 16

Photos Participants on the steps of McNally Main Facilitator Junior Moaku, founder of Save Me Save We 17

On May 25, 2022, 170 Black youth ages 15-18 took part in Business is Jammin’s (BIJ) second biennial youth summit.


In the last decade, they’ve 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.

Youth had the opportunity to discuss and examine challenges specific to Black communities within Nova Scotia and how they can leverage resources to their advantage.

Business is Jammin’ shapes youth into vibrant members of the business community. Working with young people through a range of educational, social, mentorship, and financial support programs to build business acumen and leadership skills.

The summit was a chance for young Black leaders to explore their leadership abilities and create a platform that inspires action.

The Saint Mary’s Entrepreneurship Centre (SMUEC) donated the space for the event, which offered students the chance to network with successful young entrepreneurs and participate in empowering workshops, including a session on pitch training.

“When you meet people... you’re trying to network and trying to give them that quick ‘elevator pitch’ on who you are; what it is you’re interested in and what you want to gain from the person you’re connecting with or speaking with and how to go about creating meaningful connections,” Handara says.

By Amber Fryday by Presh

“Sometimes there are a lot of barriers that come between youth and some of the dreams they want to achieve, be it going to a school somewhere or becoming an entrepreneur or pursuing a career path, there are always obstacles. We want them to think outside the box and embrace the mindset of ‘How can I overcome this?’ Rather than, ‘This is my situation,’” says Handara.

The theme for the summit was The Power of You. Event organizer Vimbayi Handara says the theme was about inspiring and encouraging youth to know what they’re capable of within their communities.


She shared her story of leadership with the attendees of The Power of You.

As a result of hearing Witter’s address, Akunyili applied to be the valedictorian at Dartmouth High School.

“They were able to connect with some of the older youth who have thriving businesses and who were able to create them from the ground up. That was an opportunity for a mentorship connection.

says she hopes the biggest takeaway from the day was for the attendees to be aware of the power they have within themselves and to be aware of resources they can tap into.

Four workshops were offered — Leveraging Community Resources, Building Wealth, Education and Entrepreneurship and Health And Wellness.

“I feel like they could learn something from it and it could help them grow.”

She adds that being engaged with a large group of Black youth was encouraging. “It was important for me because it made me feel like I wasn’t alone, and then there was someone else going through the same thing as I was.”

Business is Jammin’ also brought in young entrepreneurs as a way of encouraging networking.

“I felt like I could do more. Like I just didn’t want to be in the shadows,” Akunyili says. Handara says she believes many of the other students shared similar sentiments to the keynote speaker’s address. “She had a story I think a lot of them could relate to. Just some of the struggles she has as a young Black woman in Nova Scotia, how she overcame them with the resources, the same resources, that are available today,” said Handara.

Seventeen-year-old Oge Akunyili was one of the attendees. She was left feeling inspired after hearing the keynote speaker, Crystal Witter – the vice-president of operations at Crayon Strategies – talk about leadership and ways to improve confidence.”

BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 202218

Witter says she was typically a very shy teenager and never thought of herself as a leader, but after learning public speaking skills during the conference, she said she realized the fundamentals of being a leader and the “impact that a leader could make.”

Oftentimes, there might not be a lot of Black role models who they can look up to and connect with to gain valuable information,” she Handarasays.

“I spoke to them about trusting themselves and the decisions they make. By not limiting themselves, doing whatever they chose and to get out of their comfort zone. I did speak about the whole experience of being identified as a youth leader that triggered change in the mentality I have,” says Witter.

We had Junior Moaku, who was the founder of Save Me Save We, an organization that focuses on mental health. And he focuses on bringing these topics into conversations and into Black households,” Handara said. “We try to target Black youth who they can also look up to and who are a little bit older than them so that they can see these things are achievable and they’re being done by people who look just like them.

In 2021, Witter graduated from Saint Mary’s University with her Bachelor of Arts degree. She was nominated and elected as class valedictorian. Witter says if she had never attended the Emerging Global Leaders’ summit, she would have never had the courage to fulfill that role.

Youth summit organizer Vimbayi Handara

Tony Ince MLA Cole Harbour 1081 Cole Harbour Rd Unit 6 Dartmouth, NS B2V 1E8 902.406.3288 tonyince@tonyincemla.ca

“With the workshops we had, we were showing the participants areas where they could empower themselves through skills that they could learn from home, or do skills they could gain from getting involved with opportunities such as co-ops and internships.”

Witter, at 14-years-old in 2012, attended the Emerging Global Leaders’ summit in Toronto. Witter says attending that conference changed the trajectory of her life. It was where she figured out her life purpose of inspiring people to be their best selves.

Akunyili says she would recommend that youth take advantage of attending the summit in the future.

By Sandra Hannebohm

June 2022: EEM Jocelyn Stevens (far left) represents BBI at Moncton’s Newcomer and International Student Settlement Fair

Entrepreneurship Engagement Managers (EEMs) at the Black Business Initiative offer financial advice and counseling, loans and grants, resources, and information but, in short, “We are the navigators,” EEM Rodger Smith says.


BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 202219

When small business owners and operators come with questions, EEMs are the ones finding the answers, providing support from ideation to execution. They’ve done this in person for years, but the pandemic forced everyone to pivot.

June 2022: Blessing Owowa (right) of DB Pearlz Designs chats with shoppers at BBI’s Juneteenth vendor market 2022: EEM Precious Familusi (second from left) poses with participants at an workshop in Newfoundland

First, calls had to be made to set up new ways of communicating and getting services to clients. One problem at the beginning was that not everyone was familiar with Zoom or virtual calling. This brought up a key need in the Black business community — technology. This need gave rise to the development of the Consulting Advisory Services (CAS) Grant Program, which applicants can use to hire consultants in any area related to their business, especially to help owners navigate the pitfalls of the new urgent need for tech savvy. The program will open for applications again this fall.

This year, the Juneteenth celebration brought vendors not only to the waterfront but, thanks to a partnership with the Halifax Shopping Center, to the mall. In 2021, the third floor in front of the Apple store saw roughly 10 vendors fill the bright, empty space at the head of the escalator with their wares.

In 2022, a vacant storefront on the second floor was used. Shoppers were drawn in by a beautiful, themed balloon display and lively music.

EEM Report

A major 2021 highlight was the Juneteenth celebration in partnership with Develop Nova Scotia, where small businesses from across the province participated in weekend pop-ups on the waterfront, with music provided by DJ Webber, raising $8,300 for the vendors last year.


Employees rely on salaries to eat and pay their bills. Delaying paycheques results in huge (and often unpleasant) issues in staff relations. Ensure with each pay run that you put money aside to cover the payroll taxes deducted from the employee’s pay. File all payroll returns on time — filing late could incur fines and penalties.

You need to ensure you track every single business transaction and properly organize them. Failing to do so could create confusion during month end, creating unnecessary work for yourself and your bookkeeping team. There are a few ways you could organize the data:

4. Understand monthly bookkeeping reports

Most of these software programs offer services such as tracking cash, inventory, foreign currency transactions, and points of sale.

Choosing software that allows you to work smart and not hard will ease the burden. It will also give you more time for operating the Somebusiness.examples of well-known bookkeeping software are:

One of the simplest ways to get into tax trouble is having personal expenses recorded as business expenses. Ensure you open a bank account for your business. Set up your business accounts in the very beginning to allow you to have a strong start in preparing your business’ growth. This will guarantee you do not mix up transactions when transferring information onto your balance sheets or income statements.

Entrepreneur Tool Kit By Chipo Nhema

• Online documentation system — using an online platform to upload information to the Cloud.

• The paper system — use your old school methods of writing and filing physical records (aka the shoebox method).

2. Organize your business documentation

You need to read and fully understand income statements and balance sheets. This is the only way to know if what you are doing is succeeding. Some business owners realize their mistakes too late when they’ve already accumulated debt with no money to service it. This will also help you to prepare for tax season.

1. Choose the right bookkeeping software

5. Be diligent with sales invoicing

• Oracle NetSuite • Intuit Quickbooks • Freshbooks • Invoice2Go

• The electronic system on your computer’s hard drive to create an Excel spreadsheet to store data on your computer.

When a job is complete, send the customer an invoice so you will start receiving income. This ensures a healthy bank balance. This may not apply to businesses that operate on a cash basis, as cash comes in at the time of sale.

6. Pay your employees on time

3. Keep track of cash payments

Even though the passion you have for your business is its driving force, you need to implement proper administrative and organizational habits for the business to succeed. It is imperative to be on top of your bookkeeping ‘game’. If you are not careful, poor tracking of your expenses and cash flow may leave you in the red.

Whenever you receive cash, deposit it to the business account before it’s spent. This prevents you from forgetting to input a transaction or forgetting which customer has paid. It is embarrassing to call a customer asking for payment when you have already been paid.

7. Keep personal and business banking separate

Bookkeeping and Tax Tips for Small Businesses

You have finally found your passion; you have full control of the direction of the business and you can now plant roots within your community — running your own business is rewarding.

Here are a few tips to avoid that:

BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 202220

BLACK & WHITE An Intimate, Multicultural Perspective on “White Advantage” and the Paths to Change Stephen Dorsey Also available in French: NOIR et BLANC Un regard intime et multiculturel sur « l’avantage blanc » et les voies du changement $24.95 | (eBook(eBook978-1-77471-036-4memoirEng)978-1-77471-052-4Fre)978-1-77471-053-1 The anticipated debut by a biracial community leader and citizen activist, exploring his lived experience of systemic racism in North America and the paths forward. Delmore “Buddy” Daye L ea r ni n g I n s t i t u te Excellence in Africentric Education & Research “I am because we are” – UBUNTU, AFRICAN PROVERB ” ENGAGE WITH US! www.dbdli.ca As an Africentric Institute, our mission is to create learning opportunities for Nova Scotians of African descent. We are experts in Africentric education and research. We also focus on building government and community-based relationships and improve the understanding of Africentricity.Sometimes, especially at the start of the businesses’ growth, you are the customer service agent, the office administrator, and the bookkeeper (and every other role in between). This can become overwhelming very quickly. Outsourcing is cost effective because you only need to pay for the hours worked and it avoids errors. (An old maxim is to sell your skills and buy your weaknesses.) Here are a few businesses within the Halifax Regional Municipality that offer accounting and financial services: Davies Accounting and Financial Services 64 Carnaby Cres., Dartmouth NS B2V 2R3 (902) Email:www.davies-accounting-services.ca/home.html434-8606accounting@ns.sympatico.ca. The Southwind Group Accounting and Financial Services Suite 211 – 1478 Main Rd., Eastern Passage NS B3G 0E6 902-407-4909 BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 202221

What are your plans for the future?

I had a super-cool, understanding, and down-toearth English teachers in my grade 11 and 12 years.

By Cassandra Grosse uincie Grant came up with the idea to deliver his valedictory speech in spoken word/prose. The idea was well-received.

Q BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 202222


“I spoke with my parents and my English teacher this year, Mr. James McDougall, and he said he was completely okay with me doing whatever kind of style I felt was necessary.” As per the school’s valedictorian candidacy procedures, Grant collected supporting signatures enabling him to compete in a three-minute speak-off. As a top-three finalist, he moved on to the final speak-off before a jury of 12 teachers and 12 students to win votes for election as valedictorian. What motivates you? We didn’t have the greatest situation growing up. My mom was my mom at 15, a single mother still living with her parents. The narrative given to us was that we would just be another family, another broken family, with no signs of success.

Are you an inspiration to your siblings?

I have a full-time summer job working for the Department of Diversity. I’m going to be working in a really cool-looking building downtown with a lot of talented African Nova Scotian, Southeast Asian, and Middle Eastern people who really want the best for our city. Is there anything else you would like the world to know about you, Quincie Grant?

Quincie Grant

Of course, I am. I have never been in a magazine before. It is super-cool and it’s a magazine that my family has done some research on. It’s such an honour, it’s so cool. It’s like the dopest part of the summer so far!

When my stepfather came into my life, he showed me Black excellence. As a mixed man, he’s shown me that, regardless of his race, he feels no different. My stepfather, and maybe the narrative given to me at birth, have been my biggest motivators. What was your favourite subject in school? It was always English — I love to write, public speaking, and really like poetry.

I live with my half-sister and my stepbrother. They’ve always been supersupportive. I spent my whole life with my stepbrother ever since I was maybe two. He’s my best friend. I really couldn’t ask for anybody better, he’s always had my back. We grew up playing hockey together on the exact same team. I just couldn’t get that much better than him. This year, when he made the high school varsity team and I didn’t, I thought that we were gonna lose a lot of the connection we had, but I don’t believe anything changed. I think we will always be super-close and it’s the same thing with my half-sister. She started going to school this year with us at Lockview and I think that’s only helped our relationship grow further.

Are you excited about being featured in Black to Business?

I believe writing is going to be a big part of my future. I hope to become a lawyer. I have been accepted into Dalhousie University’s undergraduate degree in law, justice, and society program and was awarded a $4,500 scholarship from the Black Mentorship Program.

You can watch out for those Black Nova Scotians, man. Better watch out. As we graduate today, we have accomplished just one goal, tomorrow we set more… …It’s time to do what you love, to create and satisfy your own expectations, to find your own purpose. …Life is an opportunity, and we are all opportunists.

I think the teaching role in high school is such an overlooked position. It’s really not for everybody, and it can make or break somebody. It is evident how teachers can make or break your high school experience and affect you down the line. With Mr. James McDougall, we bonded over almost everything. It may be a bit odd to say this, but I may have looked at a lot of things differently and been a different person if Mr. McDougall hadn’t made an impact. I will remember him forever.

I loved just speaking out loud — you know, singing, rapping. I loved the writing process of it, I found it so mesmerizing. Does a teacher’s investment in a student make a change?


– Excerpt from Grant’s valedictory speech, June 29, 2022.

That’s a hard question to answer. I’ve been a clinical social worker since 2004. I have four degrees — my Bachelor of Arts (psychology, sociology), my Bachelor of Social Work, and two Masters in critical studies and social work.

23BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 2022

By Thandiwe McCarthy WeekesbyPhotographyCOUNSELLING

I had a practice years ago in Oromocto. I had it for a few years after I got out of the military because I had served as a military social worker. I got out of the forces and opened a private practice in Oromocto which I had for three years until I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child. So, I took about a five-year hiatus from the counselling/mental field to stay home and raise my children. I always said when Lauren, my daughter, started school, I would go back to work so that’s what I did. She started last September in kindergarten. I’ve been in private practice before, working with various populations and all age groups. Right now, my caseload is made up primarily of children and youth, but I did secure some contracts with, for example, Work Safe New Brunswick, Blue Cross, and Health Canada. I will be taking on virtual clients starting as early as July 2022. I’ve also partnered with a local business to start a selfesteem program aimed at young women that will be launching in September. Why New Brunswick? This was where I was raised. I moved here from Africa when I was nine when we settled in Fredericton, New Brunswick. During my career, I’ve also worked in Nova Scotia and British Columbia. I decided to move back to the East Coast because this is where I grew up, it’s home for me and I find there is a lack of services and supports here, particularly for the Black community. So, what better opportunity than to come here to Saint John, which has a large Black population, to raise my kids and open a business? It’s just great to be part of the community and be a Black-owned business.

Advice to Black female entrepreneurs?




Find those strong people in the Black community — people who have established businesses, connect with them and learn all the information you can. Find mentors to guide you and help build yourself to a place where you can be successful.

Who is Zandra Kierstead?

I want to be that strong role model for young Black girls and women who are coming up in New Brunswick. My daughter is one of them and I want to show they can do something to be successful right here. Because when I was growing up; I didn’t get those messages. I was told I was going to be nothing. I was told I wasn’t going to do well, and I wasn’t going to succeed.

What are your goals for this business?

How did you get started?

What is the birth story of this business?

I want to build a legacy for my children and my family. My goal is to fill the gaps that are out there not only in the mental health crisis we’re having, but particularly to serve the Black community. There are so few Black clinicians out there. It’s a very small number in the Maritimes.

When I found out the Black Business Initiative has expanded to New Brunswick, I thought, ‘This is fantastic’. As African Canadians, there are barriers to accessing funds. I had to use my own money to start my first counselling business. So, the BBI is a very supportive organization.

Zandra Kierstead is a Clinical Social Worker / Therapist in New Brunswick. She has experience working with various populations and has worked in child protection, acute care settings within hospitals – including tertiary care, community mental health and addictions – private practice, and served as a social work officer in the Canadian Armed Forces.

This fall I will be starting my doctoral studies in psychology. Very excited for that. I got here with my four children, my grandmother and little grandchild. I have three little ones at home with me. I started the practice about four months ago so I’m getting ready to open my doors at this point.

I understand the lived experience of Black persons who have gone through these racist assaults — it’s trauma. Our bodies and our minds ingest it. We need to get that out by talking about it, becoming comfortable in our own skin, and loving who we are by looking in the mirror and having that positive sense of self-worth, self-esteem and feeling good about ourselves. It transcends to other aspects of your life. You will have good interpersonal relationships with people when you’re happy with yourself.

Don’t give up. There are a lot of reasons to not take steps, but we need this in the community. We need to see strong Black leaders and strong Black businesspeople because it’s not only our peers and our colleagues who are seeing us do what we’re doing, but it’s the children who are growing up seeing people in these positions.

Six months later, one of the people she had connected with had a contract for her. Eventually, her client list began to grow.

“We are looking to find a way to merge all these business needs into one basic platform to link all our clients and staff together. I don’t want to use 17 different things just to run my business every day, because by the time we are done logging in to all the apps it’s already 11 o’clock.”

Photo contributed Jenny James Bryte

“One is an excellent very low-interest rate loan, but you already must have a revenue of a half million dollars or more. I’m trying to get my business to that margin. It’s a little unusual because I am a bookkeeper and I’m not really in the technology industry. It’s not the type of project that most bookkeepers would be looking to take on.”



She says she wants to develop a software application that can offer all these services without having to buy multiple programs.

“In coming to Charlottetown, I realized it’s a different world,” James says. “In Vancouver, I really didn’t have to look for work. I’d just call a recruiter if I needed something and then sat back and waited. I would pick from what was available to me.”

When Jenny James moved to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, from Vancouver, she thought she would easily find an accounting job. When she couldn’t, she created one.

James is happy her business has grown. She’s working to develop a software package she can use to manage and keep her business organized. She pays for different software to share clients’ documents, communicate with her staff and track her work progress and she finds it expensive and challenging.

“I was having trouble paying my bills at that point and I needed a way to support myself. I never anticipated looking outside of the accounting industry to find work.”

James hopes she can develop the software soon, with the help of the BBI.

James, 41, wanted to live in a small city she could call home. She conducted all the necessary research needed and found Charlottetown. What she didn’t know was it would be tough finding a job.

James says it’s been tough trying to achieve this business goal.

BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 202224

James decided it was the right time to start a business where she could offer bookkeeping services. She operates her business from her home, where her office is located. She helps both small and big businesses stay organized and handles payroll, business record keeping and bank reconciliations among other financial services. She says starting a business isn’t always as glamorous as it may seem.

By Onyinye Vivian Ulinwa

“Even behind the bar, I let everyone under the sun know I’m an accountant and that my intention was to someday get back to it.”

“One thing I did not anticipate is how slow it would be funding this project. The best options out there are designed for much larger companies,” she said.

James applied to various accounting firms she wanted to work with on PEI but wasn’t selected. She kept searching for seven months until she could no longer wait. She took up a job where she sold tickets at the driving park and eventually took a bartending job.

She dreamed about being employed by an accounting organization and worked in the accounting industry for 14 years before starting her business, Bryte Bookkeeping, in 2019.

At her job, she began to network and meet new people.

“It was extremely challenging for me to get everything going, organized and selling myself for what my skills are worth. At first, I thought ‘I’m great at doing accounting work and I will just do that as if I had a regular job,’ but it turned out that’s not reality. I have to do all the accounting work times the number of clients I have.”

James believes it’s overwhelming finding organizations that can help small businesses, especially from a minority group. Recently, she found the Black Business Initiative, saying they have been very “Afterhelpful.Imetwith BBI, I realized they do a lot of other things. They can help with business plan writing and I need to do that. They put me in touch with someone who can help me do some website updates, which is phenomenal. I knew I needed someone to assist with my website, but if they hadn’t told me about this particular company, it would have been on a long list of things I need to look into.”


By Lydia Phillip Photo by Skkynation Media


“I see a growing province and the opportunity to build here. It’s a beautiful place and it has been good to us,” Belinda says. Since they met in college, the Robinsons have always had a passion for cooking and baking. When they arrived on The Rock, a big idea began to form. They saw the opportunity to do something different, to fill a gap in the food industry and bring a taste of the Caribbean to their new neighbours. They didn’t have much at the start — except determination.

Entrepreneurs are often highly regarded as multifaceted, hardworking individuals. Belinda and Gary Robinson, owners of the Kool Reggae restaurant, in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, are no exception. Although they hail from a family of bakers, cooks, and chefs, these two entrepreneurs have worn many different hats on their own. Alongside previous experience in the restaurant business, Gary is an accountant, has taught mathematics, and worked as an air traffic controller. Belinda, who is also an educator and accountant, used to teach integrated sciences and biology before discovering her passion for the healthcare industry and enrolling in a nursing program. The nursing program brought the Robinsons from Jamaica to Canada’s east coast when a work opportunity arose in 2015. Although it’s a vastly different culture and climate than they left, the Robinsons eagerly made Newfoundland their home. They were curious about how their family would be received in a predominantly white area but say they have been warmly welcomed.



Gary, Cindy and Belinda Robinson, the family behind Kool Reggae Belinda and Gary Robinson Kool Reggae 241 Airport Blvd, Gander, NL A1V 1J5 (709)

The Robinsons received assistance from the local Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC) and were later able to secure a loan as well as purchase equipment from a closing franchise. The couple opened Kool Reggae in July 2019, offering a variety of flavourful, homemade Jamaican pastries and dishes.

“The road has been rocky since COVID, but it really comes down to how we can manage through these stormy waters, and we are,” said Gary who attributes their progress to their eclectic mix of backgrounds and work experience.

Last year, Kool Reggae moved to a new, more central location nearer the Gander International Airport. It’s a venue that invites more tourists and travellers through the restaurant doors.

Kool Reggae’s logo is a nod to the intertwining cultures and a play on words.

The Robinsons are constantly innovating with new dishes, seasonings, and spices, using generational recipes while adding their own flair.

“BBI’s expansion to Newfoundland means empowerment. It means strength. It means more support and shifting the perspective that Black people aren’t seen as progressing,” she says.

“We’re here and we feel like we’re a part of Newfoundland,” Belinda proudly exclaims. She personally developed the design which depicts a polar bear standing between two palm trees with a seascape in the background. “We wanted it to be inclusive,” she says. The polar bear represents the often-chilly Newfoundland temperatures while the beach scene creates a tropical staycation within the province.

“My parents always told us to put out our best. We are proud of the service we offer and the quality of our food,” Gary said.

More than 250 businesses joined the Halifax Chamber of Commerce last year. Find out why! Membership Sales Manager Cindy Mann (902) 481 1227 cindy@halifaxchamber.com www.halifaxchamber.com BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 202226

Customers enter the restaurant in search of something unique and leave with promises to “Peoplereturn.come by here and say they’ve never tasted anything like it.”

They’re thankful for the support they received from Newfoundlanders and are happy to better acquaint locals with Jamaican food and culture, “We found people are willing to try something new, so we have a strong customer base.”

Belinda spoke about the stigma Black entrepreneurs face, as well as the recent expansion of the Black Business Initiative’s (BBI’s) operations to other parts of Atlantic Canada and the opportunity BBI provides in supporting and connecting business owners.

As they press onward, the Robinsons are intent on producing high-quality food and service.

“We have a bigger space and more equipment. Everything happened at the right time,” Belinda said. In March 2022, the Robinsons attended the World of Flavour Culinary contest hosted by the Association of New Canadians. As a testament to their propensity for flavour and quality, the Robinsons were awarded first place for the Gander area.

“It helps us cope with the current situation.”

“With organizations like the BBI, we can build ourselves up. Then, we can extend those services and supports to other people,” Belinda says. “We want to be an inspiration for Black people and anyone afraid to start a business. Yes, it is more challenging for Black entrepreneurs, but we will rise above it with faith and determination.”

In the future, the Robinsons plan to create a space for hosting events and concerts, diversifying operations with a bar, and offering live entertainment for guests. The vision for Kool Reggae is to provide a welcoming, multicultural experience so everyone feels like they belong.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, the Robinsons remained optimistic.

More Black Canadians will benefit from its business development programs.

The couple continued to learn as they went, adapting to the local culture, tourist operations, different regulatory requirements, and new ways to deliver food orders.

The Robinsons expressed their appreciation to the BBI for the support and business promotion they are receiving, hopeful it will bring even more people through their doors.

Nkala is proud to say the Consulting Advisory Services (CAS) Grant applications will again open this fall, but the most obvious recent achievement has already been in the headlines — BBI’s expansion to all of Atlantic Canada.

The Black Business Initiative is one of four intermediary organizations chosen to deliver this program. SBCCI uses the intermediary delivery model to ensure that funding is available to the Black community fairly and transparently. SBCCI is for Black-led and Black-serving grassroots and nonprofit organizations across Canada, allowing eligible entrepreneurs to receive anywhere from $10,000 – $45,000 in grant funding.

“The numbers, I think, are significant, especially in terms of where we started. Initially, when the program started, we were really looking at supporting 50 to 70 organizations that are Black-led and Black-serving over a four-year period. That number has grown substantially,” Jones said. “In 18 months alone, we’ve supported 233 organizations or 251 projects, to the tune of more than $8.5 million across Canada.”

Chiedza Jones, the BBI’s Director of Corporate Strategy, Research, and Communications, says BBI’s recent focus when it comes to giving grants has been on diversifying and working with organizations looking to diversify their sources of funding or strengthen their governance in a couple of areas of focus.

After asking community members and leaders, the main takeaway, so far, has been that home-grown solutions are required, not a mirror image of Halifax’s programming, “which is why it was important for us to have offices on the ground,” Nkala says.

In 2021 the first round of SBCCI’s call for grant proposals yielded 211 applications across Canada out of which,129 were approved and awarded a total of $4,521,292 in funding.

“When the pandemic hit, there was no way to be truly present at actual business locations, especially in rural areas,” Njabulo Nkala, the Black Business Initiative’s Director of Innovation and Growth, says. “First, there was the challenge of connecting with businesses, then starting to do meetings by phone, and then via virtual tools, like Zoom. Businesses that didn’t have an online presence suffered greatly, while those who were able to pivot to delivery services and online sales fared better.

“Here, we work with a lot of partners, so [the question was] are we able to duplicate the same in other places? We are doing preliminary work going into these areas to see what that would look like,” he said.

Training Report SBCCI Report By Feleshia

By Sandra Hannebohm

BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 202227

“In terms of numbers, we’ve certainly seen them increase and we’ve also seen the increase as well, in terms of organizations we’ve been able to support in Atlantic Canada.”

On 21 November 2021, the SBCCI Intermediary Network, Black Business Initiative (Halifax), Groupe 3737 (Montréal), Tropicana Community Services (Toronto) and Africa Centre (Edmonton) closed the second call for proposals. Together, the Intermediaries will be providing more than $5.6 million in funds to 161 Blackled grassroots and community organizations serving the needs of Black communities across Canada.

“We encourage folks in the Atlantic Provinces to apply… as a sentimentality, you want to see more organizations putting those things forward. A lot of folks, despite advertising, miss those items [grant opportunities].” Chandler

The Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative (SBCCI) is a federally funded program created by the federal government, through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC,) to increase the capacity of Black-led communities and non-profit organizations dedicated to Black Canadian communities.

The CEO of the BBI, Rustum Southwell, says a majority of businesses supported have been in Nova Scotia. Going forward, he encourages people elsewhere to apply.

Already, the BBI has hired Entrepreneurship Engagement Managers Precious Familusi, for Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island, and Jocelyn Stevens, for New Brunswick. The first brick-and-mortar location opened earlier this year in Moncton and the Newfoundland location opens shortly.

Thanks to an injection of $2.3 million from the federal Black Entrepreneurship Program over three years, the BBI can expand beyond its mandate of provincial funding covering the cost of programs solely in Nova Scotia.

I try to support any and every, but the one that stands out right now would be The Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia because of the significant success of the National Apology to the No. 2 Construction Battalion. I am ashamed to say this, but none in Canada. I can’t pick just one, but I’ve been intentional about visiting and supporting as many pop-ups as I can.


BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 202228

Ask The BBI Staff contributed What has been your favourite age and why?

makesco-workerWhichyoulaughthemost?What business(es)Blackhaveyousupportedthisyear?

the very first impression all the way Newfoundland,fromPreciousisawholevibe!


22 - The first time I ever travelled to a Caribbean Island, The Bahamas, to be exact. I think my age now is my favourite age. I am 28. I am more confident, self-aware, and I have gone through experiences that have made me kinder and more empathetic.

I have two: Ruth is a ball of energy and can brighten up anyone’s day. Chiedza has a very infectious laugh. When she starts laughing, for whatever reason, I can’t stop.

Gabby, because I find her sense ofhilarious.humour Mr. Southwell makes me laugh by just being his true self, and Ms. Amber Grosse adds onto my silly jokes and makes them even Familusi.Preciousfunnier.

People who have

Kreative Korner based here in Halifax! They have amazing balloon décor arrangements that are simply breathtaking. You should check them out! KV Family Counselling, Belo Stylz, Caribbean Flavas, Pure Gold Foundations and others.

toolshaveMakingWork/lifeTheattitudes.positiveEmpathy.peopleandthepositiveenergytheybring.Willingnesstosupportoneanother.balanceandgoodcoffee.surethatIthenecessarytoperformmy duties efficiently. Also knowing I am making a positive impact to authenticandtakingorganization.theNotalwaysourselvessuper-seriouslybringingourselvesto the office. I think a good balance of work hard, play hard. Having a relationship with your corporateoutsidecoworkersoftheirpersonalitiesisveryimportant.Thepeople/staff.

Several, by organizing the Juneteenth and the Halifax Waterfront vendor Flenjormarkets.Foods is a firm favourite. Throughout the year we support many businesses. One business I would like to highlight is Cross Brothers Demolition & More.

What’s one thing thatworkplace?tocontributesahappy threeyourselfDescribeinwords.

We asked BBI staffers to answer a few fun, personal-interest questions. Here are their answers...

Rodger SMITH Claudia BOWERS Mamadou WADE Amber GROSSE Chipo NHEMA Matthew MARTEL Ruth NJILAYI Jocelyn STEVENS


25 - A quarter of a century old, in the prime of my life. Also 60 when I started receiving my Canada Pension. 12 - A simple age, before rushing

31 - Because I got my dog and became engaged in the same year. My favourite age is the age I am right now. 20. 17 was when I first fell in love and met my husband-to-be.future

By Amber Fryday


“It’s a partnership we hope never ends.”

Over the years, Futurpreneur has been an important partner for BBI, offering similar services and having common goals for the community. The organization supports businesses to get off the ground and helps people take their ideas and aspirations and turn them into business plans.

Martel says BBI completed in-depth research used to form some of the questions and discussions at the event.

“We wanted to make sure that it’s not so structured that there are no opportunities for participants to take advantage of the people that were standing in front of them. We do want to have great resources for people, we had a period for Q&A, and provided a lot of value and insight, not just to the participants who are from the Black community, but also other Martelparticipants.”saysthepartnership with Futurpreneur has been vital and he hopes to see it strengthen moving forward.

Canadians came from across the country to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to share their experiences, challenges and actions, and to speak out on what needs to change in the Black community.

| Photos contributed BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 202229

BBI staff at the National Black Canadians Summit

“They’ve helped us strategically,” Matthew Martel, BBI’s chief operating officer “They’vesays.helped us with guest mentorship for our clients. They’ve helped us build networks for our clients. They’ve been one of our longest-standing partners and they’ve never had competition at the front of their minds. They’ve always been a supporter of ours from day one. So, there’s never that sense of competing over a client. They’re always there to help us wherever they Martelcan.”says

helping build generational wealth and economic independence is at the core of the partnership between the two “Joiningorganizations.forceswith organizations like Futurpreneur to provide modern business skills and even a platform to have the community present and explore some of the challenges of entrepreneurship as a Black person, I think is something that there’s unfortunately not enough stages for people to do that.”

“The Summit was held over three days at the Halifax Convention Centre, July 29 – 31, 2022, on the eve of the activities and celebrations of August 1st, Emancipation Day, a moment that celebrates the strength and determination of Black communities in Canada.”

Futur preneur’s David Eisnor is past chair of the Black Business Community Investment Fund Ltd. (BBICFL)

From July 29 – 31 in Halifax, Futurpreneur and BBI took part in facilitating a panel discussion during the third National Black Canadians Summit.

Futurpreneur and BBI took part in the third National Black Canadians Summit, held this year in Halifax.

BLACK to BUSINESS Fall 202230

BIJ continues to advance by creating a customized business community media space, and by providing opportunities and resources for BIJ entrepreneurs. show

Business is Jammin’ (BIJ) continues to thrive. The ability to pivot entrepreneurship programs during the pandemic led to another successful year with programs expanding beyond Nova Scotia into the three remaining Atlantic provinces.

July 2022 – BIJ summer camp participants July 2022 – BIJ STEM Entrepreneurship Bootcamp participants May 2022 – Youth Summit attendees

off their BIJ t-shirts

The biennial youth summit, The Power of You, welcomed more than 170 students, ages 15 to 18, from across Nova Scotia.

The annual March Break camp created a safe virtual space for young Black Canadians to develop and cultivate business ideas.

Newly formed partnerships fostered growth as BIJ created alliances with the Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre, Efficiency Nova Scotia, and the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE).

Two youths of African descent were awarded the annual Dr. Rudy Ffrench Trailblazer award of $1000, for their community leadership and commitment. The Experience In program was a success, introducing African Nova Scotian high school students to careers in engineering, architecture, and planning.

By Sandra Hannebohm

BIJ Report Fall 2022

BIJ has also launched an Entrepreneurs’ Mentorship Program, supported by the Royal Bank of Canada’s Future Launch Program. This four-month long program matched young entrepreneurs with Nova Scotian business mentors.

www.halifax.ca | Councillor311CathyDeagleGammon District 1 District 12 ShawnCouncillorCleary District 9 WayeCouncillorMason District 7 LisaCouncillorBlackburn District 14 SamCouncillorAustin District 5 DavidCouncillorHendsbee District 2 Councillor Cathy Deagle Gammon District 1 LindellCouncillorSmith District 8 ShawnCouncillorCleary District 9 SamCouncillorAustin District 5 WayeCouncillorMason District 7 PattyCouncillorCuttell District 11 LisaCouncillorBlackburn District 14 IonaCouncillorStoddard District 12 TimCouncillorOuthit District 16 Deputy Mayor Pam Lovelace District 13 TonyCouncillorMancini District 6 HALIFAX REGIONAL COUNCILLORS Proudly Supporting The Black Business Initiative & Halifax’s Black-Owned Businesses 311 halifax.ca/council SAVE THE DATE AFRICAN NOVA SCOTIAN ROAD TO ECONOMIC PROSPERITY Saturday, October 21st, 2022 10:00 am - 3:00 pm The Prince George Hotel Halifax Sign up for the newsletter to receive updates and invitations anseconomicprosperity.com COMMUNITY SUMMIT 31

As a proud employer partner of the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, we are committed to promoting diversity and encouraging a culture of inclusion, appreciation and respect within our Firm. Through our community support, we strive to encourage cultural understanding across all our Atlantic Canadian communities. Because we believe that we are better, together.

think: better together


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