Black to Business - Issue 66 - Summer 2018

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TRAILBLAZERS Classic Soles Terrence Taylor Media Bailly Perfume Oils GEEK SPEAK Four marketing tools that every business should consider in 2018

DISRUPTING THE NORM The Business Benefits of Networking

BUSINESS IS JAMMIN Entrepreneur Tool Kit: Co-operative Education at a Glance

BUILDING YOUR CAPACITY Aboriginal, Minority and Women-owned businesses

Educational workshops, panel and roundtable discussions on inclusive procurement opportunities for Aboriginal, Minority and Women-owned businesses in corporate Canada’s supply chain.




Silver Birches Conference Centre Hampton Inn and Homewood Suites by Hilton Halifax Downtown

$50 + HST

To register visit:

Maigoro brings new possibilities to the company and a new way of looking at things that helps others open up their own way of thinking. MARLEE MOORE VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING GREEN POWER LABS Diversity and youthful perspectives can energize a workplace. The Graduate to Opportunity Program provides salary contributions of up to 35% to Nova Scotia employers who hire recent grads for new jobs. To breathe new life into your workforce, visit NOVASCOTIA.CA

Maigoro Yunana, Building Energy Modelling Specialist, Green Power Labs

Sponsored by

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: 902-426-8683 Publisher: The Black Business Initiative Editor in Chief: S.I. Rustum Southwell Managing Editor: Angela Johnson, Mirabliss Media Productions Sales Manager: Patty Baxter

Contents Summer 2018

Message from the Board of Directors


Message from the BBI Interim CEO


COVER STORY: Tukwini Mandela


The African Nova Scotian Directory


Disrupting the Norm: The Business Benefits of Networking


Delectible Desserts Inc. BATLX – Training Talent for the Gridiron

Art Director: Mike Cugno


Cover Photography: Ezabriell Fraser and contributed The Black Business Initiative Centennial Building Suite 910, 1660 Hollis Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 1V7 Phone: 902.426.8683 Fax: 902.426.8699 Toll Free: 1.888.664.9333 E-mail:

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TRAILBLAZERS: Youth Making Moves Classic Soles Terrence Taylor Media Bailly Perfume Oils

Production Coordinator: Emma Brennan



Creative Director: Jamie Playfair

Graphic Designer: Barbara Raymont


18 18 19

Geek Speak Ask the BBI Entrepreneur Tool Kit: Co-operative Education at a Glance Halifax Chamber of Commerce

14 20 22 30

BBI NEWS Meet the new BBI Board Chair BIJ Report – Winter Spring 2018 Meet the Board of Directors Meet the Staff BBI Out and About Regional Report – Rodger Smith Regional Report – Paul Rukidi

6 24 26 27 27 29 30

28 SPRING 2018

siness Black to Bu BLACK BUSIN



Black to Business Summer 2018 / Issue 66



S TRAILBLAZER Classic Soles Media Terrence Taylor e Oils Bailly Perfum GEEK SPEAK tools Four marketing s that every busines r should conside in 2018

THE NORM DISRUPTING Benefits The Business of Networking



Summer 2018

JAMMIN BUSINESS IS Tool Kit: Entrepreneur Education Co-operative Glance at a

On the cover: Tukwini Mandela speaks to Halifax youth. See story on page 8.

BBI News

Message from the Board of Directors After spending 16 years working at one organization, I began to seek change. Unsure of what change and in which capacity, I began serving on the boards of a number of local organizations, including the Halifax Cornwallis Progress Club, the Greater Halifax Partnership, the Halifax Chamber Commerce and, of course, the Black Business Initiative.

“The horizon leans forward / Offering you space to place new steps of change.” – Maya Angelou

To serve as a board member, ultimately, is to serve your community. To re-invest your skill, knowledge and ability in an organization with the expectation that through this work those the organization serves will directly benefit from your dedication and time.

continue to serve our community, we also need to extend our expertise to other minority communities in the province – to take the tools we’ve used to establish the African Nova Scotian business community and edit, personalize and expand them. It’s forever in our best interest that when we push the yardstick forward for our community that we do what we can to establish and pull it forward for another minority or Indigenous group. Opportunity is not created in a vacuum and our success is the catalyst for theirs.

Throughout my time as a member of the Black Business Initiative’s Board of Directors, and the last four years spent as its board chair, it is my great hope that my desire to support a successful and vibrant African Nova Scotian business community was felt by all members of the business community we touched – be it directly or indirectly – or through osmosis.

As my time as board chair for the Black Business Initiative draws to a close, it is with great pleasure that I witness our community’s ‘runway’ continuing to grow longer: for there to be even more space for great ideas to land and businesses to launch to new heights. I am eager to watch what will come to pass as more young people step into the entrepreneurial spotlight and how their pattern will be further woven into the community’s legacy.

The success of the BBI and black businesses in Nova Scotia has never been about the personal legacy of Cynthia Dorrington, but the lasting legacy of those who came before me and bulldozed paths where none existed; the perseverance of those with whom I stood shoulder to shoulder; and the persistence of young entrepreneurs who see that the only way for all of us to move forward is by reaching back to grab the hands of those who are at risk of being left behind.

I have spent the last four years on a rollercoaster. My tenure has been a thrill-ride, an experience for which I will always be grateful. My time as Board Chair has left an imprint on how I think and how I run my own business and has shaped me into a successful businesswoman. Thank you for allowing me to play a small role in fostering a strong, vibrant African Nova Scotian-led economy.

The African Nova Scotian business community is intricately woven into the fabric of this province, and as a result of the work of the staff of the BBI who offer not just the right mix of skills, but also strength in program and service delivery, BBI’s partners are coming online stronger and more prepared than ever before.


Because of a robust and comprehensive strategic plan, we know that we’re offering the right mix of programs that black businesses need to thrive. It is through this work that we realized that to


Cynthia Dorrington


Summer 2018

Message from the CEO After many years of leadership at the helm of the BBI Board, Cynthia Dorrington ended her term with us this spring, and we thank her profusely for her leadership during her time as Chair. We are a much better organization because of her service.

to significant partnership opportunities with institutions such as Dalhousie University and corporations like Stewart McKelvey Law. We retooled the organization. We engaged Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette (KBRS) to revise our organizational chart and job descriptions to make us more efficient and impactful. And, we hired the right people for the right roles. BBI will continue to invest in our staff team.

As we bid her farewell, we are quite proud and excited that she is moving on to a prestigious posting as the very first African Nova Scotian person to Chair the Halifax Chamber of Commerce - an historic, distinguished and long-standing Board of Trade. The BBI recognizes Cynthia’s endeavors and accomplishments over the years and we know that her success is attributable not only to strong leadership, but also to hard work, perseverance and determination. We applaud the decision made by the Board of Directors and senior staff of the Halifax Chamber to choose a respected member of the Black community for this post. Our entire board and staff wish her all the best with this latest opportunity.

We are working closer with our funders. For over twenty years, we have enjoyed a symbiotic and productive relationship with both levels of Government - Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) on behalf of the federal government, and Department of Business, NSBI, Labour and Advanced Education on behalf of the provincial government. We look forward to continuing to strengthen these important key partnerships. We are using our entrepreneurial model to build capacity within our community, particularly with our youth. Consequently, we have redoubled our efforts to ensure that our youth will not fall behind in driving the new innovative and technologically-savvy economy. To that end our entrepreneurial focus will build on past successes of the Business is Jammin’ program and introduce youth to coding, architecture, science and other necessary business skills. Building our capacity in the business sector and human capital will see us opening new frontiers and new partnerships. It will make us inescapably more relevant.

What a difference a year makes! At the Black Business Initiative, we have lived and stayed focused on our original vision of a “Dynamic and Vibrant Black presence within the Nova Scotia business community” for the last two decades. For me, “Changing lives by enabling economic independence” will become the clarion call for the next twenty years. The change will help us to add to the many success stories, some known and others not yet told, of accomplishments throughout the years.

Finally, it is important for us to serve you the best we can and teach our clients the roadmap to business success. We cannot do this without our volunteer board along with our staff team and committed community involvement. As always, our promise is to do it “Right Now!”

Our journey forward will be led by an accomplished staff team, staged and ready to move the needle in all aspects of the business spectrum. For Black business owners and economic development in the wider Black community, the BBI will assemble the strategies and resources to ensure our involvement in enriching the Nova Scotian economy.


S.I. Rustum Southwell

We are seeing a renewed energy at the BBI since the reintroduction of the Business Summit in 2017. This conference opened the door


BBI, Founding and Interim CEO


Summer 2018

BBI News

Carlo Simmons New BBI Board Chair

Carlo Simmons’ business career spans 40 years. He worked at Public Works Canada and in Preston Area and Housing. In 1983, he joined his family’s business, Simmons Paving Co. Ltd, started by his parents Gloria and Wilfred Simmons. After his father’s death, Carlo became the company’s vice president and operations manager, where he continues to work with three of his brothers and additional family members.

1718 Argyle Street Halifax, NS B3J 3N6 Tel: 902-424-5712

Carlo is very active in his church, he recently joined Word in Actions Ministries in Dartmouth – a church started by his brother and head pastor Ed Simmons.

Toll Free: 1-888-484-0880

Carlo considers himself a people-person and prides himself on maintaining high standards and striving for excellence in everything he does. His key business tenets include, trust, dependability, honesty and competitive pricing.

He is excited by this new role and looks forward to working with the BBI as it realizes its new strategic plan.

“Exclusive Financial Institution for Provincial Employees.”



Summer 2018

e r F

! ! e

Community Greenhands

Starting: June 2018! Tuesdays: 5:30PM-7:30PM (Garden maintenance & workshop) Wednesdays: 9:30AM (Guest speaker, field trip, or workshop) Tuesdays: 5:30PM-7:30PM (Garden maintenance & workshop) Some Saturdays TBD!

Curriculum Highlights!

The Community Greenhands is an exciting and educational experience for Black and racially visible minority youth. Youth will come together to plant seeds, to grow produce, and to learn about entrepreneurship and agriculture! Through this initiative, the Community Greenhands youth will be introduced to a variety of topics through engaging activities and field trips!

Contact information!


Who we are!

Ages: 8-15 | H.G. Bauld Centre, 35 Wilfred Jackson Way, Westphal NS | Starting June 2018

Afro-centric approach to agriculture Entrepreneurship Bee farming Growing and selling produce field trip to Dalhousie Agricultural College AND MORE!

Garden Coordinator: Kyah Sparks Tel: 902-880-5924 BIJ Youth Coordinator: Tracey Williams Tel: 902-476-9764



Summer 2018

Life Lessons and Legacy


Photography by Ezabriell Fraser

Tukwini Mandela’s message to young people everywhere is do what makes you happy and you will be successful. It’s an old adage, she agrees, but says that’s what makes it a powerful one. It has been tested over time. It is a message she brought to more than 90 young people and adults who joined the Black Business Initiative’s Business is Jammin’ (BIJ) youth event held at the Halifax Central Library on May 7th. “I want to assure them that they don’t have to follow the status quo to be successful, there are many routes to success,” she says. This message was reflected in the theme of the event entitled ‘Be Brave Enough to Challenge the Status Quo’. It was one life lesson she shared, among others, that is rooted in the legacy of her family and its name. She explains that her grandfather, anti-apartheid activist and former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela’s clan name, Rolihlahla, means ‘one who is brave enough to get the honey from a honeycomb’, which can be commonly interpreted as one who goes against the grain or challenges the status quo. The BIJ event in Halifax was one stop in a yearlong celebration of her grandfather who would have turned 100 years old on July 18th. He died December 5, 2013. Tukwini says her grandfather’s legacy to her and the world is to believe in yourself, even when things are difficult, unearth your inner leader and find ways to contribute to your community.



Summer 2018

“People have different strengths and different skills and it’s important to focus on the strengths,” she says. Tukwini’s strength is part of her lineage. Born in Eastern Cape, South Africa in 1974, she is an eldest child with two siblings. Until the age of 11 they were raised by her grandmother while their mother furthered her education.

Ross Simmonds with Tukwini Mandela moderated the event.

Her grandmother encouraged her to be curious about life and instilled in them a strong work ethic and pride in who you are and what you do. “She taught me that even when you don’t like what you’re doing, to give a 100%.” In 1985, her parents moved her and her siblings to the US while they continued their studies; there she receive an education of her own. Not knowing any English, the lesson was how to fit in. She says it was ‘an experience’ but she applied herself. She learned English in six months, and attributes her strength and much growth to that time abroad.



Summer 2018

“My world view is much larger than it would have been if I’d stayed in South Africa,” she says.

Angela Johnson with Tukwini Mandela.

She moved back to South Africa nine years later, in 1994, just as her grandfather was taking office as the first black president of South Africa. Tukwini studied social work and account management obtaining her degree and certificate respectively. She held jobs as an account manager, communications consultant and marketing director for advertising agencies and financial institutions. She even studied at the London College of Fashion. She says all were a strong foundation for her current venture, House of Mandela Wines, where she is the marketing director and co-founder with her mother Dr. Makaziwe Mandela. In an article featured in the Winnipeg Free Press in 2016, Tukwini says a family friend introduced them to the wine business and after investigating the industry, she and her mother were so impressed by the passion of the wine producers, “we thought it would be a great vehicle to tell our family story.” The wine’s labels continue the history behind her father’s clan name. It is a bee with outstretched tree branches for wings. The bee is the Mandela family totem and the wings represent the many branches of their family tree. The House of Mandela wines website further states: “When our father and grandfather went to his ancestral home after his release from prison, he was followed by a swarm of bees all the way from the airport to his home. This symbolized good tidings and blessings from his ancestors as they were welcoming him home.” As she travels away from home and across continents promoting this business venture and marking the Nelson Mandela centenary, Tukwini is passionate about presenting her family’s name positively, but says she also appreciates the lessons she’s learning from others she meets. “My grandfather came from a certain place, he came from certain parents. All the ideas that he espoused he learned from someone and from somewhere,” she says. “For me when I travel, that is what I bring and what I take.” She says it’s a duty she welcomes and encourages youth to seek out, “be open to what brings you joy, be open minded, and prepared to learn.” For more information on the House of Mandela wines visit



Summer 2018

BBI Business Training

Upcoming Workshops & Events Free Classes EVENT



Foundations for Success

September 10



September 11


Customer Relationship Management

September 12


Business Skills for Growth

September 13


Colour your world At Stewart McKelvey, we believe that the world wouldn’t be as bright and beautiful without all of the cultures, perspectives, ideas, and experiences that colour it. We strive to set the standard when it comes to diversity and inclusion, creating a workplace that fosters a culture of awareness, appreciation, and respect. It not only makes our practice better, it makes us who we are.









Summer 2018


The African Nova Scotian Directory

By Ariel Gough Photography by Ezabriell Fraser

East Preston native, Tyson Tolliver, is a self-starter with a passionate interest in preserving and promoting African Canadian culture. About nine years ago, he began working on a project to address questions he had about African Nova Scotian (ANS) culture. He found there wasn’t information about various landmarks, historical points of interest, and profiles and that what was available was sparse. “Although I knew pockets of information,” says Tolliver. “I soon realized that there was no central hub where people could readily access information.” Adding to his frustration was the fact that information available on Google maps and Wikipedia often lacked photo evidence or was altogether inaccurate. This is when Tolliver decided to take matters into his own hands. Armed with a camera and the will to gain answers, he decided to create a directory. However, with so little information available and so much of the culture to document, he says he didn’t fully anticipate how difficult it would be. His directory project took a short hiatus when his daughter was born but after taking time off for paternity leave, he began again to gather information about ANS culture in his spare time. He often took his daughter with him on road trips to take photos of points of interest and started pulling the pieces together. He continued researching for a few years, personally funding the travel to capture and document information for the resource guide. He was connected to the BBI while visiting the Africville Museum and he says that’s when things began to take shape. Through BBI’s connections and support, Tolliver enrolled in and completed Volta Academy, an 11-week program that helps participants test and validate their ideas, outline a minimum viable product (MVP) and grow a scalable startup. “The connection [to Volta Academy] was instrumental in helping me to get where I am today,” says Tolliver. Tolliver was able to launch the African Nova Scotian Directory (ANSD), complete with the ANSD App, which is now available in the Apple APP and Google Play stores. Visitors can contribute content to the directory as well as explore various landmarks, information, and interests related to ANS culture. Tolliver hopes that, through community action, the directory can become “a source for information and direction and also a platform for exposing businesses, immigrants and visitors to the beauty of African Nova Scotian and African Canadian culture.” Along with improving the user experience through the app, Tolliver says he plans to host a formal launch to increase the directory’s exposure and help it become a vital resource for African Nova Scotian communities.

Tyson Tolliver

Tolliver says he is looking forward to more daddy-daughter trips and more amazing pictures to take. He is confident that, with connections such as those facilitated by the BBI, he can help put African Nova Scotian and African Canadian culture, literally, all over the map.



Summer 2018


By Nicole Jackson

Four marketing tools that every business should consider in 2018 When I say the word “marketing”, what comes to mind? Is it the billboard you passed along your commute? Is it the TV commercial you saw during the evening news? Is it the radio ad you heard on your drive home? Or is it the tweet? The Facebook ad? The blog post? The video?

Sending and responding to daily emails, however, can take up a lot of time—time that could be better served doing other things. That’s where MailChimp comes in. MailChimp is a campaign builder that allows you to create and send automated email messages to your customers. From sending out newsletters, to welcoming new subscribers, to advising customers of sales and promotions, this tool can help with all of that. There are different tiers of this service with a free version for new/small businesses.

The truth is, all of the above are used in “marketing”. While the more traditional forms (TV, radio and print) will always exist, the growth of the internet, technology and social networking has made way for a much more efficient and affordable way for all businesses to promote and advertise their products and services.

You’ve got to be where your audience is and, these days, that’s online. You’ve got to be online and engaged, talking with your customers on social media, participating in discussions and providing value. Buffer can make this a lot easier to achieve.

Today, you can do so much to grow your brand and business with very minimal resources. Many tools now exist online that small and large businesses alike swear by in the execution of their marketing strategies. All you need is a phone or computer, some time, and a whole lot of drive!

Buffer is a scheduling tool that allows you to set up posts to be published across many of the most popular social media channels—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+—at a date and time that you want them sent. Their free plan allows 10 scheduled posts per account for up to 3 accounts. Upgrade your plan to receive reports and analytics on posts engagement.

While there are endless tools out there, ranging from basic to elaborate, the tools I want to talk about here are simple and easy to use for anybody. Anyone can learn them and you can learn them starting today. Here are four tools you can start using right now to take your marketing efforts to the next level:

In our busy, loud and fast-moving society, there’s so much information constantly coming at us that it can be difficult to sort through it all. We consume content so passively now— absentmindedly scrolling and skimming through our social feeds—that it takes something really special to make us stop and pay attention.

With over 280 billion emails sent per day, email is clearly still one of the most popular means of communication. That’s why leveraging email for marketing is a no-brainer.





Summer 2018

1 Create and send automated email campaigns with MailChimp.

Nicole Jackson is a Digital Marketing Strategist with Foundation Marketing Inc. In her role, she builds strategies, creates content and manages social media for brands and businesses looking to establish a presence online. Want to chat? You can find her on Twitter at @nicoledawn_3.

2 Schedule content across social media channels with Buffer.

Usually what makes us stop is a catchy headline or a stunning visual. Canva is a marketer’s dream for accomplishing this! Design blog headers, social media graphics, flyers, coupons and SO MUCH MORE with this free graphic-design tool. Use photos, filters, shapes and fonts to bring your vision to life. The company claims you can learn it in only 30 seconds, and they’re not lying! Organic and social reach can’t get you pretty far, but the perfect marketing strategy combines organic and social with paid advertising. Google Adwords is a great tool for those looking to acquire new leads for their business. You can create ads that target specific keywords or locations, and when someone searches on Google in that region or with that keyword, they can be shown your ad.

3 Create endless visual marketing assets with Canva.

You can also target people in video ads on YouTube, in banner ads on various websites, and through app ads. And the beauty is, you can set a limit on how much you’re willing to pay per month and you only pay when someone clicks on your ad! So there you have it! Four easy-to-use tools that you can immediately incorporate into your business’ marketing activities! Don’t forget, the goal of marketing is to drive reach and awareness of your brand, grow your consumer base and, of course, sell things. There are many many ways to get to your end goal and these are some of the tools that you can leverage to help you do get there.


4 Reach your target audience with Google Adwords.


Summer 2018

The Business Benefits of Networking

Networking event at the Halifax Central Library.

In the founding of the Black Business Initiative, government sought to support black businesses by investing in startups that were considered risky to mainstream investors. Since 1996 governments have changed, and so has funding. To provide more value with less funding, BBI turned to enhanced training and networking events to assist in expanding their client base to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland.


Celebrating Business was one of the first BBI networking events of the year, held in February at the Halifax Central Public Library, in partnership with African Nova Scotian Affairs and TD Bank. It offered the public a tradeshow featuring several businesses and a panel of entrepreneurs who discussed the challenges of starting their own companies and how important networking is to business growth. Five of those shared their thoughts on this with Black to Business.

An immigrant to the province, Natalie Wilson was pressed to integrate her new business into the larger business community. She started networking before the business opened but the first, second, third, and fourth time she tried it, she felt uncomfortable and shy. “Over time, as I started to see the benefits of networking, I realized I had to keep it up,” she said. Even after winning the 2018 Consumer’s Choice Awards, the 2017 Top 25 Immigrants Award, and the 2017 Black Excellence Award, Natalie can still be found at several dozens of networking opportunities each year. House of Auto Details has a different approach to customer service. An executive suite is featured in the general lobby, outfitted with comfortable seating and a table for entrepreneurs to work while they wait. Happy clients aside, word of mouth alone couldn’t connect her to other business owners. So, she started networking. “It helps us to bring the idea of my business and my brand to other people who don’t know who we are,” she said. More than that, the reason is beyond money. “Usually it’s more about the black community– the startup community. They want to hear what we’ve done and what opportunities are out there.” For quality car maintenance and detailing, visit House of

When Nathan Symonds started his business it was just a part-time winter snow-plowing job. After he quit his government job and bought a second truck, “everything started snowballing. Now I do everything from mowing lawns to excavation,” he said. Five years and almost a dozen employees later, Nathan attributes part of his success to free training and events he found through BBI. In Nathan’s view, the amount of time one spends networking is equivalent to the amount of growth they want for their business. “The more you put into it, the more you get out of it,” he said. “Networking is just talking to people about your business on a regular basis.” When they’re new, training and mentorship are invaluable to any business. “BBI can actually help those who have a vision but don’t know which way to go with it. They have mentors and courses to get you on the right track. If it weren’t for that, some of us maybe wouldn’t be as successful without the resources and training that BBI offers,” he added. Before showcasing his company at Celebrating Business, Nathan said even the people who knew about his company didn’t know all the services NDS Property Services offered, like commercial cleaning. “It’s definitely beneficial to the business.”



Landscaping, snow removal and commercial cleaning can be found on Facebook at the NDS Property Services page.

By Sandra Hannebohm Photography by Ezabriell Fraser BLACK to BUSINESS


Summer 2018

Bernadette Hamilton-Reid knew Nathan’s company did snow removal but before the February event, “I didn’t even know he had his own cleaning company!” She was one of BBI’s first clients in the 1990s, selling Africentric children’s books. Over time her business inventory grew from children’s books to dolls, handmade clothing, greeting cards, hand drums, and Africentric faith items. As a black mother she wanted her children to know their history and see themselves reflected in children’s books. She couldn’t stress it enough – “our stories don’t get told unless somebody tells them.” BBI mentors and instructors pushed Bernadette to transform her business into what it is today. Previously called AlySam, Sankofa Marketing and Sales is still going because of that push, she said. She encourages owners to network because in her experience, “when I walk down Spring Garden Road or Gottingen Street and I don’t see black businesses, my fear is that we don’t exist.” She doesn’t often see owners networking, either. She understands how uncomfortable it can be to network as the only black business owner in the room, but she found hope in seeing new faces at Celebrating Business. For those who are hesitant to network and stand awkwardly at a display table, Bernadette has a tip: “Just take a friend you can talk to, so you look like you’re busy. There’s nothing worse than going to an event and standing in the corner by yourself and thinking, ‘I don’t belong here.’” Clothes and other Africentric items from the continent can be found at

“I believe that what I have done and what I am learning, I can teach other people,” said Bridgett Williams. Her line of self help books are for anyone from teenagers to seniors with myriad challenges such as low self-esteem, low-income, faith, and even recovering from sexual abuse. She uses her own life lessons to teach others how to overcome adversity. While working in the United States, Bridgett was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Five years later she is healthy, strong, and expanding her business. “Cancer gave me a different perspective, and it opened me up to new things,” she said. “I began to look at things more optimistically, and saw every challenge as some form of positive – what can I learn from it?”

Like Bernadette, Joyce Adom’s business was inspired by her children. When her toddler son learned how to open bottles and jars, he began eating their contents. Containers of hair and skin products were found strewn across the floor, empty. Unable to get their son to eat healthy food, Joyce’s husband suggested she take a nutrition course. “Everything just took off from there,” she said. Simply Go Natural Cosmetics sells hair care for Type 4 kinky hair, and natural hygiene products. “It’s really for me and my family,” she said. Each bottle and jar is guaranteed safe to use, and although it is not recommended, safe to consume. Joyce said if it wasn’t for a BBI networking event she was invited to in the early days of her business, her business wouldn’t be growing like it is today. Today, Joyce is getting ready to pivot from retail sales to wholesale products for retailers with store fronts, like Nbuji Mayi on Gottingen Street. She admitted that before discovering BBI, she was confused about where to take her business. After meeting people who overcame the challenges she was going through as a start-up, Joyce was relieved to find out “there are people out there who help people like us.” For natural hair and skin care products, especially for Type 4 kinky hair, visit or go to Nbuji Mayi Market on Gottingen Street.



Summer 2018

As a Nova Scotian native working outside the country, Bridgette had to re-establish herself in a business environment that had changed in 15 years. She thanks Bonnie O’Toole and Roger Smith for helping her re-integrate into a new business landscape. “I am not defined by my circumstances, but by my actions. I am not living in defeat, but in a brave and bodacious lifestyle” she said, adding “a networking event is a roadmap. It takes you to where you need to go, and if you stay home you miss out on a lot of opportunities.” To find self help books with advice on frugal spending and life skills, visit Bridgette Williams’ website, AdjustingYourLifestyleAndFrugalSpending.


By Nicole Brooks de Gier

Photography by Paul Adams

Classic Soles Tyrone Goodwin was watching television when a commercial prompted him to launch Classic Soles. An idea that started on his couch, grew in his kitchen.

Not long after Classic Sole’s launch, Goodwin paired with business partner John Connor, the owner of East Coast Kicks to maximize business profit. East Coast Kicks is one of the few high-end sneaker shops east of Montreal and combining exclusive sneaker releases with sneaker detailing was a nobrainer, Goodwin explains.

“For me it all started at home, in my kitchen cleaning people’s sneakers on my washer,” says Goodwin. “I jumped in wholeheartedly. I just knew I had to keep it going. I had a vision of being the expert in shoe cleaning.”

Tyrone Goodwin (right) and John Connor (left)

“Believe it or not, we didn’t know each other before this. We each were doing our thing at home. Six months after I started, we were introduced,” says Goodwin. “We’re offering full-circle service with clients coming in to buy sneakers and coming back to keep those shoes clean. We’re the full meal deal.”

Capitalizing on the preciousness of sneaker culture, Classic Soles is a footwear cleaning and customizing shop nestled in North End Halifax. In under a year, Goodwin has amassed a dedicated group of customers, many of whom have been lured to the Agricola and West street shop by its social media presence. His Instagram account features jawdropping before and after photos of previously dingy, dark sneakers returned to gleaming white perfection. For sneakers that have already been returned to their former glory, Goodwin adds custom artwork like children’s names or cartoon characters.

In addition to establishing Classic Soles and East Coast Kicks as the go-to destination for sneakerheads in Halifax, both Goodwin and Connor are dedicated to investing in the local community. Their shared space features unique, and sometimes political clothing, with artwork by several local apparel brands and the duo often do shoe drives to support those in need who live nearby.

“Sneaker [lovers are] a community and a culture. Once you’re immersed in the community you learn more about colorways and what they represent,” Goodwin explains. “The sneaker then becomes collector’s items and memorabilia. It’s so much more than grabbing sneakers and putting them on your feet.”

“We’re a local business and we really want to support the local businesses that are trying to do their thing, too,” says Goodwin. “We want people to want to drop by to see us fellas at the shop.” 902-579-6849

Terrence Taylor Media There’s no doubt that Terrence Taylor is unstoppable. He carries himself with a buoyancy and effervescence that’s contagious and it’s no wonder that the 30-year-old has seen success in the handful of business start-ups he’s launched since graduating from St. Francis Xavier University.

At its core, Terrence Taylor Media, is a social enterprise. He helps other businessowners appeal to their consumer base through unique online content, videos and storytelling, but he also gives back to his community by inspiring youth to create original content and dream bigger.

“The barrier to entry is how much work you want to put in,” he explains referencing his business strategy.

A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, Taylor moved to his mother’s home province of Nova Scotia as a teenager. He also played basketball throughout his childhood and at university, also just like his mother. He says that as a young black man, there are often only two predetermined paths set for your future and he wanted to eschew both.

His latest venture, Terrence Taylor Media, is grounded in his penchant for social media, branding, storytelling, and content production. The business, which is inching toward its first anniversary, is supported by Common Goods Solutions and its five-year business incubation program.

Terrence Taylor

“When you have a purpose and a why and you’re an artist, you’re not about capitalism and the bottom line. You want to do business a different way,” explains Taylor. “Yes, I have a business and I want it to be successful, but I also have a reason for it and that’s to help people like me.” BLACK to BUSINESS


“I’m changing the narrative on what it is to be a young, black man,” he says. “It’s the name of the podcast I host discussing racism and social movements, but it’s also an important part of my work. I want to help support people like me succeed in different ways.” 902-809-4680

Summer 2018

Bailly Perfume Oils The meet-cute tale of Ariel Gough and Edwina Govindsamy is one they both tell fondly. They were introduced through Govindsamy’s mother, a former colleague of Gough’s, and they became fast friends.

continued through the line of scents themselves, which features a scent called ‘Brilliance.’

“Almost immediately we knew we wanted to work on something together, we just didn’t know what it was,” says Govindsamy with a smile.

In addition to their line of fragrances, the duo plans speaking engagements geared at young girls and women to encourage self-assurance and will commit a portion of Bailly’s proceeds to Just Like My Child Foundation’s Girl Power Project a Ugandan organization that supports life skills and mentoring for the country’s young women.

Both natural entrepreneurs, they brainstormed for two years to come up with the premise for Bailly Perfume Oils. “We wanted to do something that was meaningful,” says Gough. “Bailly is a perfume, but we knew it needed to be something much more than that.”

Ariel Gough and Edwina Govindsamy

The goal of Bailly, explains Govindsamy, is to not only create a product that smells good but to have a positive and tangible impact on the lives of young women and girls. The company’s name itself is branded after a lunar impact crater, which is a metaphor for young women and girls making an impact in their communities. The theme is



Summer 2018

“For us, brilliance means allowing who you are to shine, being yourself, and the confidence in knowing that who you are is enough,” says Gough.

“At the end of the day, yes, it’s a perfume and we want people to smell good and feel good, but we also want to encourage them to change the world in their own way,” says Gough. “Whether it’s through our products or causes we support, we want to use our platform to give a voice to young women who are overcoming obstacles and pursuing their dreams.” 902-476-5995

Ask The BBI

Staff contributed

How to be more innovative? Small business

Bigger, mainstream business / enterprises

1. Stay Up to Date on Trends and Best Practices Maintain innovation by constantly researching trends and best practices. Being a lifetime learner is crucial to maintaining a competitive edge. Subscribe to as many blogs as you can, network with people in your industry, and never be afraid to admit that you could learn more. The truth is, we all have something to learn. As a team ask, “How can this be better?” After events and promotions, meet as a team and discuss what worked, what didn’t work, and most importantly, how we can do better next time. Even if the campaign or event was a total success, there is always room for improvement. 2. Leverage your Customer Base Staying innovative is always important for any kind of business. For any small business, it’s about always improving your product / service design. But how do you know if one design is better than the last? Through leveraging your customer base. Run polls, give them surveys; let them give you their opinions. Too many companies don’t want to listen to their customer bases. As a result, they make subpar / substandard products/services and never deliver. 3. Build Diverse Teams Diverse teams are able to better understand complex problems and make more informed decisions, compared to homogeneous teams. When you’re able to bring people together from completely different demographics, they come equipped with a variety of perspectives and opinions that help you view problems from all angles. Diversity encourages creativity, new ideas, innovation, and breakthrough. 4. Clearly Define What We’re Looking For To create a culture of innovation within your small business, it is important to first establish an expectation of the type of innovation you’re looking for. Are you looking for product innovation? Process innovation? Sales and marketing innovation? The list goes on and on. Before you communicate with your employees, make sure you are clear on the innovation you are asking of them. 5. Stay in Touch with Leaders in the Industry The way to stay innovative is by remaining in touch with industry leaders. Whether at trade shows, through industry publications, or during conversations, always be engaged with technology and thought leaders to learn what is on the horizon.

1. What are some ways in which businesses find, test, and integrate innovative software solutions today? There are several methods that businesses use to apply new innovations. Some bigger corporations choose to open or partner with an innovation lab, incubator or accelerator. Those with in-house innovation labs have a designated team to develop ideas and test them within the confines of the corporation and partnering with an incubator or accelerator provides access to a large body of cutting-edge solutions to hand-pick from. While these options often yield valuable results, they require much care, time, and many resources to operate. Once a Business finally finds a solution it thinks will fulfill its needs, it runs a Proofof -Concept (PoC), a process that entails creating a dedicated testing environment to examine the solution, runs tests, and analyzes the results, before choosing if and how to continue to integration. 2. Why is this a concern? What are the current pains that are associated with innovation? Tapping into incubators, accelerators, and innovation labs is beyond the financial means of most companies, and therefore not a viable option for innovation. The entire PoC process, on the other hand, is fraught with complexity, a mismatching of needs, lack of information, and false advertising of solutions’ capabilities that can stall the process (deliberate or not). Because of this, many businesses resist undertaking the process unless absolutely necessary, causing them to miss out on opportunities for advancement. 3. During the process of innovation— when businesses find, test, and integrate solutions—do start-ups run into the same obstacles as established businesses? When businesses innovate, start-ups find themselves on the other side of the equation—they must find ways to show their solutions and then prove their worth. This process comes with its own, unique, set of complications. First and foremost, start-ups spend their very limited resources attempting to attract the attention of businesses and develop partnerships



Summer 2018

instead of allocating that time and money to perfecting their products. Once they do attract the attention of a business, and decide to begin the PoC process, the lack of clear channels of communication means that opportunities stall or fall through the cracks. 4. What steps should companies be taking to streamline the business innovation process? Streamlining business innovation doesn’t happen from one day to the next— companies are slowly shifting their mindsets regarding innovation adoption towards embracing external solutions. Here are a few things to keep in mind: • It’s a full-time project. Find a person who can keep their finger constantly on the pulse of innovation. The best way to make sure your business’ technology is always up to date, is always knowing which solutions exist and what the technology landscape looks like outside of your industry. • Think outside the box. Find creative ways to locate and test solutions. Not all solutions will come knocking on your doorstep, and having a multi-pronged approach to finding innovation, testing the solutions, and integrating the ones you choose, is worthwhile. Remember that innovation does not have to come from within, innovation labs and hunting for external solutions are not mutually exclusive, and not every external software vendor that you work with must be acquired. • Adopt a “co-opetition” strategy. Look for ways to work with the start-ups that are posing a threat, as they are clearly doing something right. Chances are they could benefit from working with a major business, and a strategic partnership could be advantageous to both sides. • Data, data, data. Taking control of your business data by collecting and analyzing it will help your business function more efficiently and effectively. Getting down to the details of the testing process, the better you know your data, the more realistically you can provide data for testing environment creation, yielding a more helpful PoC run and ultimately, a successful integration.

Delectable Desserts Inc. By Angela Johnson and Ariel Gough

When Dennis Mbeba and his partner Melissa moved to Halifax, they had no idea what life would bring. Arriving in a new city and community, his first goal was to find employment. Not finding that immediately, he decided to create his own career opportunity. And since Melissa was a pastry chef, with extensive experience in the industry, they decided on a dessert business. After doing the obligatory market research, a next step in their business venture was to visit the BBI, where Dennis applied for training. They had created a business plan but he needed assistance in attracting and retaining customers. Mbeba says the BBI helped with this. “BBI helped to not only put us before the business community but also supported us by offering us opportunities to showcase our products, to reach the local audience and to get people talking about our business.” Dennis fondly remembers BBI personnel reaching out on his behalf to encourage a lender to assist them with funding. “This instilled a certain level of trust to know that BBI had our best interest at heart,” says Dennis. In addition, BBI helped to provide financial and promotional assistance and welcomed the couple into places where they could gain exposure to the wider community. One such event helped them sign two new clients. Today, Dennis and Melissa are co-owners of Delectable Desserts Inc., a family-owned wholesale dessert company based in Burnside, Dartmouth. The company describes itself as, “Locally owned and operated, we supply gourmet menu-ready desserts to food service operations in HRM. All of our desserts are made fresh daily, using real (and locally sourced) ingredients.” They cater to hotels, golf clubs, caterers and retailers and just about anyone who buys bulk dessert items. Despite the usual challenges associated with starting a new business, Delectable Desserts is now enjoying great momentum in their new facility and are well on the way to becoming a significant producer of fresh wholesale desserts in the region. They say of owning your own business, “be patient with the process and really think about it before going in”, and wholeheartedly encourage future entrepreneurs to “go for it!” 902 468 2700 BLACK to BUSINESS


Summer 2018

Entrepreneur Tool Kit

Staff contributed

Co-operative Education at a Glance Co-operative education involves a planned workplace experience for which a credit or half-credit is earned. This experience offers significant opportunities for learning in a workplace/community setting to enable students to explore and acquire skills in a career, occupation, or job.


Co-operative education offers students an opportunity to understand the changing workplace, the knowledge, skills, and attitudes required for success; the choices available to them; and how these choices relate to their skills, abilities, interests, and personalities. Co-operative education is developmental and experiential. It is purposeful: students integrate educational interests, personal interests, and values with career exploration, personal growth, planning, and development. Prior to undertaking a work placement, students, in a minimum 25-hour in-school module, complete self-assessment activities, set goals, create actions plans, and focus on the attainment of individual, personal, educational, and career plans. Students begin preparation of a student educational and career plan in conjunction with parents or guardians, the school, friends, employer(s), and the community host. Students complete a career search based on the plans they develop.

Co-operative education helps students gain awareness and knowledge of career preparation, planning, and exploration. Students have opportunities to learn or to apply their learning in authentic settings for real purposes. Through a co-operative education course, students have an opportunity to experience the realities of the community or workplace and the labour market, while affirming or reconsidering their potential career choices. Students acquire transferable skills and a means of documenting them in their LifeWork Portfolios. To participate in a co-operative education community-based placement, a student must be 16 years of age and be socially ready for the independent nature of community placements. The decision on whether the student participates is the responsibility of the school. Risk management and due diligence must be practised when making all decisions about putting a student in a co-operative education placement.


The goals of co-operative education are to assist students in: • making informed decisions about their education and career plans • acquiring relevant knowledge and skills required in today’s society • practising adult roles within a supportive learning environment • making successful transitions from school to post-secondary destinations The following table specifies the minimum time requirements for in-school and community placement course components: In-school and community placement course components: Credit Placement

In School


Half (minimum)

25 hours (minimum)

55 hours

Full (minimum)

25 hours (minimum)

100 hours

Summer Co-operative Education

Summer provides a variety of opportunities for student placement that are not always available during the school year. Certain careers are best explored during the summer months, and there are many employers who could provide placement opportunities at this time of year. It is essential that co-operative education be differentiated from a summer job and that the emphasis be placed on the achievement of the learning outcomes. Summer placements provide the flexibility that students and community hosts need to make a community-based learning experience beneficial. Many students may not be able to complete a



Summer 2018

community-based learning placement during the regular school year because of age restrictions, heightened academic responsibilities, and extracurricular commitments. Summer co-operative education programs help these students. During the interview process for cooperative education, it might be apparent that a student would be more successful if he or she completed a co-operative education credit in the summer months. A community placement would be secured with a starting date early in July. The in-school component would be delivered in the first week of July, with return visits mid-summer and late August for reflective sessions, Life Work Portfolio development, exam writing (where required), and placement strategy meetings. Community placements would be completed at agreed times and intervals.

Employer Benefits

Employer benefits include establishing a relationship with the high school, doing valuable community service by developing a student and hence promoting jobs and industries and having access to enthusiastic and hardworking young people.


Lack of knowledge by community hosts is the biggest of the challenges faced by teachers seeking placements for co-operative education students. This lack of knowledge results in community hosts comparing co-operative education students to college and university students on internship. High school co-operative education is developmental and experiential, it prepares students to engage in employment and enables them to appreciate the skills, knowledge, and attitudes they currently possess; the skills, knowledge, and attitudes employers seek; and help them to identify and develop the key skills, knowledge, and attitudes necessary for a successful transition from school to the world of work or further study, therefore by accepting co-operative education students employers help alleviate possible future workforce shortage by helping the students affirm a career interest.



Summer 2018

BIJ Report

Winter Spring 2018 By Laurissa Manning, Stakeholder & Community Relations

As part of the overall re-branding of the BBI, Business is Jammin’ revealed its new logo and has also started creating more meaningful programs for the youth we strive to serve. Through our 2017 theme of Expanding Our Reach we worked to create new partnerships. The year kicked off with our ever-popular school program: Role Models on the Road. The BIJ team visited schools from elementary to high school, bringing along a panel of entrepreneurs, business people and risk takers who shared their experiences. These interactive sessions created a dialogue for future thinking and planning. We said farewell to Amber Gross in December and welcomed Tracey Williams as the new BIJ Coordinator in February. He hit the ground running with March Break camps just around the corner.

Be Brave Enough to Challenge the Status Quo at the Halifax Central Library.

March Break Camps had a record number of youth attending this time around and spent the week creating their business ideas, learning how to market and finally pitch them to a panel of judges. The participants had the opportunity to experience Brilliant Labs as well as other community partners. March also saw the launch of RBC iCode, a 24-week coding program for youth ages 15 to 19 years old. The first programs were held at the Captain Spry Library and North Branch Memorial Library. On May 7th, 90 youth listened to Tukwini Mandela, the grand-daughter of Nelson Mandela, encourage them to Be Brave Enough to Challenge the Status Quo at the Halifax Central Library. It was an informal atmosphere that encouraged dialogue. You can read more about this in the cover story of this issue of Black to Business. BIJ launched its first experiential program with a focus on non-traditional careers, in a collaborations with Dalhousie University: Experiences in Architecture and Planning. Eighteen youth participated in a day long program on May 18, 2018 where they worked alongside architecture and planning students at Dalhousie University. They built models and explored the city and met with professionals within the field.

Experiences in Architecture and Planning.



Summer 2018

BIJ School Visits Talks


RBC iCode Participants


2018 YOUTH SUMMER ENTREPRENEURSHIP CAMPS Weekly beginning July 3, 2018 to August 30, 2018 Ages: 8 - 15 Time: 9am - 4pm, Mon - Fri Locations: Across the Province Registration Deadline: June 15, 2018 *Registration & details online


Camps Available*:

*Dates may be subject to change

Business Is Jammin’ (BIJ’) is offering Break into Business summer camps for youth in July & August. At the end of every week, campers will get to run their own Business for a Day. Campers are encouraged to sign up for multiple camps as each week presents a different theme.

Still Taking Registration for Summer Camps bij-programs-services

Contact: Tracey Williams BIJ’ Youth Coordinator 902-476-9764




Summer 2018

Meet the Board of Directors

Elizabeth (Liz) Cooke Sumbu Elizabeth (Liz) Cooke Sumbu has over 30 years combined professional experience working administratively with the Provincial Cabinet Office in Halifax to Senior Federal administration with Superannuation Branch and the Atlantic Computer Center in New Brunswick. During the last seventeen years in Cumberland County, she has led her organization as the Executive Director for the Board of Cumberland African Nova Scotian Association (CANSA). Under Board direction, her leadership within the community and across the Province of Nova Scotia expanded employability and education services to all citizens with special emphasis on persons with disabilities, African Nova Scotians and youth at risk. In addition to her role at CANSA, Liz sits on the Senior Safety Advisory Committee, Health Sector Council Steering Committee, RCMP Black and Racially Visible Advisory Committee, African Heritage Month Network and the Regional Ethno Cultural Advisory Committee for Correctional Services of Canada. In the past Liz held executive board positions with the Canadian Association for Community Living, Maggie’s Place and the Cumberland County Transportation Committee, an Executive member of the Cumberland Poverty Action Committee, NSCC African Canadian Advisory Committee, Schizophrenia Society, Black Employment Advisory Committee and partnering with ALPHA Society on homeless initiatives. Liz holds a Certificate in Africentric Counselling from Dalhousie University School of Social Work; Certificate as Certified Tutor through the Provincial Department of Education; has successfully completed Executive Management Courses at St. Mary’s University; and holds a Certificate from St. FX University in the Adult Education Diploma Program. As a lifelong learner Elizabeth has indulged in many opportunities to enhance her skills in counseling, diversity, inclusion and community development including her recent designation as a Certified Career Practitioner with the Nova Scotia Career Development Association. Liz is active in her community working with a variety of community partners to raise awareness and enhance the lives of the citizens in Cumberland County. She strives to instill the same qualities in her three children and hopefully, her grandchildren, in years to come.

Saeed El-Darahali Saeed El-Darahali, MBA, BSc, CHR, is the President and CEO of SimplyCast, a leading provider of multi-channel, automated marketing services which empower business of all sizes to create, manage, and track their own marketing campaigns. Saeed is the driving force behind SimplyCast, which has grown to serve clients in over 175 countries. He has led SimplyCast to consistently strong year-over-year growth and many awards and accomplishments. Saeed has also led the team in the development of the one-of-a-kind emergency communication platform EmergHub. Under his leadership, SimplyCast has been awarded the 2017 Consumer Choice Award for Digital Online Marketing, the Game Changer Award for Best Youth Employer (Medium Business) and two bronze 2016 Halifax Business Awards in the categories of Business of the Year, Innovative Business of the Year, and Saeed himself was the 2016 bronze recipient of Business Person of the Year. Saeed brings over 15 years of management experience, and a strong interest in strategic partnerships, corporate financing, strategic growth, operations, sales, and marketing management to his business and the IT industry. He holds a Masters of Business Administration, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, a Certificate of Human Resource Management and Minor in Economics, all from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Saeed’s involvement in the community includes SimplyCast’s many local sponsorships and his own personal volunteer work. Saeed is an advisor with the Federal Innovation Round Table through the Government of Canada, an alumni, coach, and supporter of Junior Achievement Nova Scotia, the previous Chair of Youth Retention & Immigration for the OneNS Coalition, a member of the Advisory Committee for the Sobey School of Business and mentor for various organizations including The Canadian Youth Business Foundation and The Entrepreneurs with Disabilities Network. BLACK to BUSINESS


Summer 2018

Meet The Staff

Otni Chinenere Tracey Williams

Otni Chinenere is the Office Administrator for the Black Business Initiative (BBI). She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Tourism and Hospitality Management from Mount Saint Vincent University and is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Communication from Purdue University.

BIJ Youth Coordinator A recent addition to the Business is Jammin/BBI team, Tracey Williams, comes from a long line of public servants and has nearly twenty years experience working with youth. Tracey has led development of programming and initiatives that have benefitted youth on both a local and provincial level.

Prior to joining BBI, Otni worked for an African Nova Scotian dance company as their marketing coordinator amongst other previous positions.

He is also a member of the award-winning Hip Hop group “Universal Soul”, an assistant coach with the Halifax West Warriors boys basketball team, a dedicated husband and father to a beautiful daughter.

Otni is the first person to greet clients and guests as they arrive at the BBI. She brings to the team strong organizational and multi-tasking skills and provides support to all staff and its composite entities. She is a very enthusiastic team player with a positive can-do attitude. She looks forward to meeting BBI clients and partners and supporting the organization as they expand their reach.

Tracey attended Mount Saint Vincent University (BBA) and was a member of the Men’s Varsity Basketball team, former assistant coach with Basketball Nova Scotia U19 men’s basketball and is a senior Juror for FACTOR Canada. Tracey’s favourite quote “Never let the actions of someone else dictate what you do and who you’ll be as a person!”

BBI Out and About

Community Tax Clinics For the month of March, BBI hosted walk-in Community Volunteer Income Tax Clinics. Volunteers prepared income tax and benefit returns for individuals with modest incomes and simple tax situations. The volunteers were 4th year accounting students from Saint Mary’s University as part of their Service Learning project. It was a successful first year for the program at the BBI as 35 individuals took advantage of the free service and had their taxes done. We are looking forward to partnering with the Program and Saint Mary’s University next year.


In Issue 65 of Black to Business the writer of DTN-Downtown Nutrition was incorrectly identified. The item was written by Craig M. Smith. The error has been corrected in our online version of the magazine. We encourage you to seek it out there ( and we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. BLACK to BUSINESS


Summer 2018

BATLX Training talent for the gridiron

By Michael Lightstone Photography by Ezabriell Fraser

Micah Brown has worn several hats during his years on this earth. Student, professional athlete, mentor, coach and businessman, to name a few. The game of football – a passion of Brown’s since childhood – is firmly connected to all of the above, and continues to figure prominently today. Among other things, the former college and pro quarterback runs his own football-specific training enterprise, which opened in January in Dartmouth, and was recently an assistant football coach with the St. Francis Xavier University X-Men in Antigonish. Brown’s football-training operation, BATLX, evolved from his love of the game and from a business plan devised to fill what he said is a gap in athlete development in Nova Scotia. He said he did his research and saw a market for this here. “In Canada, you practice year-round to play in eight games during the (football) season, and that’s it,” Brown said. “Every other sport has private coaches, or has camps and clinics and other academies that you can use throughout the year, except for football.” So Brown decided, “it was kind of a niche” that should be adapted to suit competitive, goal-oriented athletes seeking to grow more talented on the gridiron. Brown said he works alone in commercial space he’s renting in a warehouse-style building equipped with fitness and weight-room gear. His business provides primarily individual instruction, but he said he could handle more than one client at a time, if the need arises. “I found it was more beneficial to . . . have a discerning attention paid to that individual client,” Brown said in May. Looking ahead, he said a possible expansion of his floor space would see artificial turf installed in an area currently rented as a storage unit to another company. In BATLX’s mission statement, posted on its website, Brown says client motivation and customer service are key. “Creativity in teaching methods and experience will set us apart from our competitors, using both repetition and variation and our process will create sound performance and athleticism without sacrificing health,” it says. An expatriate American, Brown played football at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax and later quarterbacked pro squads in Europe. According to a release from St. Francis Xavier University, he was inducted into the Touchdown Europe Hall of Fame for winning eight championships.

Micah Brown, BATLX.

Last year, Brown, who’s now 32 years old, was appointed to the X-Men football coaching staff as coach of the team’s defensive backs. He’s also the founder of the Halifax Harbour Hawks of the Maritime Football League. Brown grew up in Florida and moved to Canada in 2009. He’s earned two undergraduate degrees and has a master’s in North American studies from a German university. (He graduated from Saint Mary’s in 2013.) A married father of two, Brown wants to grow his business so it becomes the go-to centre in the region for football-specific training. He said he’s doing some online marketing; potential customers also hear about BATLX through word-of-mouth. “I am absolutely passionate about doing it,” Brown said of his business, “and helping the sport of football grow over here in Atlantic Canada.” Fees for programs provided by BATLX vary. For example, a private lesson focusing on a set of skills required for a certain position played on a team costs $90. A foursession preseason camp, geared to football players aged 10 to 18, is $380.



Summer 2018

Regional Report By Rodger Smith During my trips to the Region in April this year, I visited clients in the area to see how they are progressing with their businesses and all are doing extremely well. During my visit on April 10th, I held and afternoon workshop titled The Nova Scotian Entrepreneur for those who are interested in starting a business, at the Cape Breton Partnership office in Sydney. That evening I held a community engagement and networking event, I invited local service providers such as YMCA Employment Services, Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI), Coastal CBDC and Cape Breton Partnership to the Menelik Hall in Whitney Pier to share with the community what services they are offering. In attendance for the event were local business owners as well as those who are interested in starting a business. Cecil Clarke the mayor of Sydney was invited and is very supportive as to what the BBI is doing for the Black Business in Sydney. When the Cape Breton Post and Information Morning CBC radio station got wind of these two events they wanted to do a story as well as help to promote it in their community. During my return to Halifax I had to detour to River John to meet with a potential client who is interested in starting a restaurant business.

Make an



YOUR PASSION is what drives you out of bed in the morning. You want to make a difference, and you want to see how far you can go. YOUR CAREER needs a solid grounding in practical skills and an understanding of strategy. Choose the MBA and specialize, or pursue a specialty program and get set up for accelerated success. YOUR IMPACT on your community, on your region, and on your field: that’s what makes your family proud. That’s what sets you apart. And your degree from Sobey School is where it starts. Learn more about the Master of Business Administration, Master of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Master of Finance, Master of Applied Economics, Master of Business Administration (CPA Stream), Master of Management, Co-operatives and Credit Unions, or our suite of executive and professional development programming.

Sobey BBI ad .66 page June 2018.indd 1



Summer 2018

6/21/2018 3:43:55 PM

Partner Showcase How can we as a community, come together to contribute to the success and prosperity of businesses within Halifax and its surrounding areas? At the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, we are committed to diversity, because we recognise that we are stronger when we work together and when everyone gets a seat at the table. We work to ensure that the representation within Halifax’s business community reflects the society in which we work. We also realize that through respecting and appreciating our differences, we create a culture of growth and prosperity. The Chamber is here to promote and to nurture the community and businesses within it. As the first Chamber established in North America, with roots dating back to 1750, we take pride in being the voice for business in Halifax and are committed to enhancing the prosperity of over 1,600 members. Here’s a bit more about how the Chamber supports our members:

Build Your Network

To promote the culture of business in the region, the Chamber provides a number of services for businesses to use to achieve success. We hold over 100 networking events every year for people to make connections in the business community and we hold three gala dinners throughout the year with premier keynote speakers.

Cost Savings

Our member-to-member marketplace offers exclusive discounts for members from various business sectors all to help you save money – so you can reinvest in your business. We also have eight benefit providers that supply our members with cost saving benefit packages, including home, auto and health, which can help our smaller business members to achieve success without a heavy financial burden.


A large portion of our membership is made up of small businesses – in fact, more than 80% of our members have fewer than 25 employees. Because of this, our advocacy efforts reflect the needs of those businesses. We believe that change requires effort, so we complete advocacy work by identifying and driving change on key business issues to support Halifax businesses – large and small. Change happens when our workforce is diverse, because it allows for different ideas and new ways of thinking. We have to continue to reach out to each other, to become a strong, diverse community that is committed saving a seat at the table for everyone. If we can foster an inclusive community, we can thrive, together. Learn more about how the Halifax Chamber can help your business at

Regional Report By Paul Rukidi Earlier this year, we visited clients in the southern region to provide support and review their business progression as well as reacquaint ourselves with supporting partners VANSDA, NSBI and CBDC, who play a big role with business support in that area. Potential businesses include a restaurant start up in Canning, by the Look Off, which is a tourist destination before the hike to Cape Split. Another is a clothing store in New Minas where we identified assistance through the New Opportunities for Work “NOW” program. This program allowed for a concentrated expansion of this client’s customer base and business. Another client in Yarmouth, who is operating a printing business, is looking to export and is currently looking at acquiring new equipment to meet the current demand. He has been referred to NSBI for export advice. Prospective businesses include an automotive repair shop in Weymouth and glass pipe / hemp seed oil shop in Shelburne. These clients are in the process of building their business and implementation plans. We shall continue to work with our current clients as well as partners like CBDC, VANSDA, Valley RENS, Western RENS and the NSCC Entrepreneurship departments to service the business needs of entrepreneurs in the Southern region. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your business idea, please contact me.



Summer 2018

Proud to be covering the city and the community for the last 25 years.

BBI ad.indd 1

2018-07-12 11:32 AM

Proud to support the TD Spark Mentorship Program. We are working together with Business Is Jammin’ to make a difference in our communities.


The TD logo and other trade-marks are the property of The Toronto-Dominion Bank.



NINTH Annual

Charity Golf Tournament Friday, September 14, 2018 To PRE-Register Call 902-478-6476 Granite Springs Golf Club | 10am Registration

For Sponsorship Opportunities & Team Entries Please Contact: Paul Rukidi | |