B2B Magazine Winter 2020

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TRAILBLAZERS Andre Fenton Guyleigh Johnson Shauntay Grant GEEK SPEAK Four Ways to Leverage Instagram Stories in 2020 ANGELA JOHNSON Two Decades at the Helm

Our Collective Impact 1 80 100 200 30+ 1

Platinum Sponsorship in support of ‘A Conversation with Barack Obama’ presented by the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council and the Credit Unions.

Community members, business-owners, and volunteer Board members invited to attend on behalf of the Black Business Initiative and the Black Cultural Centre. Future Leaders’ tickets distributed in partnership with the Delmore “Buddy” Daye Learning Institute to Black youth from across the province.

Future Leaders’ tickets distributed in partnership with the Black Cultural Centre to youth across Nova Scotia. Organizations across the province that support and inspire African-Nova Scotian youth were engaged. “Cultural Expressions Presentation” developed in partnership with the Black Cultural Centre and Develop Nova Scotia.

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 advertising@bbi.ns.ca Publisher: The Black Business Initiative Editor in Chief: S.I. Rustum Southwell Managing Editor: Sharon Ishimwe Sales Manager: Patty Baxter

Contents WINTER 2020

Message from the Board of Directors


Message from the CEO




TRAILBLAZERS: Black Fiction Matters Andre Fenton


Guyleigh Johnson


Shauntay Grant




Two Decades at the Helm


Entrepreneur Tool Kit – Pricing Perfected


Creative Director: Jamie Playfair


Art Director: Mike Cugno

Kanaar Bell – Soul Talk Entertainment


Sylvia Hamilton – Maroon Films


Owen Lee – O’sound


Graphic Designer: Barbara Raymont


Production Coordinator: Paige Sawler


Cover Photography: Contributed

Partner Showcase


Meet the Staff


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: bbi@bbi.ns.ca

BIJ Report – Winter 2020


Ask the BBI


Regional Report


Training Report




bbi.ca On the cover:

Black to Business WINTER 2020 / Issue 70



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Photography contributed

BBI News

Message from the Board of Directors It has been an eventful few months as the BBI entered new periods of great excitement and momentum.

Last November, we held our annual BBI Board retreat to explore how the strategic initiatives outlined in our 2019-2022 Strategic Plan could be further enhanced to maximize positive results in the future. The BBI Composite Boards, partners, and stakeholders came together to take stock, assess current practices, and identify ways that our services can be targeted to meet the shifting tides and to capture emerging markets.

With many noteworthy achievements captured over the past years, I want to extend sincere appreciation to Angela Johnson, on behalf of the BBI Board, for her service with the Black to Business magazine. Angela’s role in sharing the community’s stories has been instrumental to highlighting the excellence in the African-Nova Scotian business community. I know that because of her dedicated work, we are better.

During the retreat, conversations and important arguments were distilled to guide us in building upon the important work that has been carried out by BBI over the past 23 years. After a day of workshops, panels and passionate conversations, three key themes were identified as the core of the discussions: shift, communications, and relationships. The retreat sparked new questions and fueled powerful conversations. It was an opportunity to help garner new ideas and possibilities to consider in our current and future efforts.

At the end of last year, we successfully launched our 2020-2021 Black Business Directory, a long-standing tradition of the BBI which has been around almost as long as the organization. Refreshed every two years, the directory provides entrepreneurs and business-owners with resources and information about agencies and organizations in the public sector that offer entrepreneurial support. It is also a great tool for finding local, Black-owned businesses that offer high quality products and services.

With significant changes in business, technology, communities, diversity and complexity of issues/needs, and financial restraints, the value and potential of BBI have never been greater. We are very grateful for the continued support that we receive from our strategic partners in the private and public sector and from the community, particularly our main funding partners, the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the Government of Nova Scotia through the Nova Scotia Business Inc. (NSBI). It has been because of these partners and their support that we continue expanding our reach and changing lives by enabling economic independence.

We hope that the Black business directory listings will lead to connections and networks and opportunities, including participation in new supply chains. BBI also had the privilege in being part of what will be a historical event, as it was the first time President Barack Obama has come to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Presented by the Nova Scotia Cooperative Council, we were honored to have been a partner and Platinum Sponsor of the event “A Conversation with Barack Obama.” I was extremely honored to have attended and been a part of this inspiring evening that brought together over 9,000 people, including 3,000 Future Leaders.


We look forward to the great work we will continue to do with your backing. Respectfully, Carlo Simmons, Chair


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Message from the CEO Angela Johnson once told me, “You are one of the few people who get me.” I took that as a compliment.

With the blessing of Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, BBI teamed up with the Black Cultural Centre (BCC) and Develop Nova Scotia to present the “Cultural Expression’’ opener produced by Brookes Diamond Production. The work of Russell Grosse, Craig Smith and Senator Oliver of the BCC and Anna Marenick from Develop NS made the Cultural Expressions presentation an invaluable addition which was well received as the 9,000 in attendance awaited the 44th President of the United States.

I first met Angela at a Black History Month event where she was the main speaker. I was with my eldest son who was a teenager at the time. Angela spoke extremely powerfully and my son was so impressed that he kept asking if he could meet her. We somehow managed to get an introduction, and looking back now, had I any idea the amount of work we’d undertake together over the years, I would have taken her contact information with me that night. Angela was instrumental in the Black to Business’ rise to prominence and was, along with many others, responsible for its quality.

Our collective impact included our partnership with Stewart McKelvey, the Future Leaders Champion. In addition, Business is Jammin’ (BIJ) and the Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute (DBDLI) partnered on the Future Leaders initiative to invite 100 emerging Black leaders to the event. Along with our community partner the BCC, we distributed over 400 guest passes to youth, community members, business-owners and Board members. Being part of the Conversation with Barack Obama presentation is one of the highlights of my life. The natural excitement in being so closely involved with an iconic hero was made even more memorable by the partnership and collaboration created by Dianne and her team. And so, if I do nothing else for the remainder of my days here on earth, I can say I met the FIRST Black President of the United States of America. History will remember him as one of the best ever. Oh, what a fantastic night!

A wise, trusted collaborator and entrepreneur with exemplary communication skills, Angela has made my world easier. As I applaud her for her years of service to BBI, I must also mention that Angela is a quintessential hero whose dedication and work for our community goes largely unrecognised and unrewarded. BBI and all of Nova Scotia should be proud of her many talents – I know that I am.

“In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less.” – Barack Obama 44th President of the United States

Diane Kelderman, CEO of the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council is another great partner of the BBI. She is the force behind the CTV(ATV) top event of the year 2019 in Halifax, “A Conversation with Barack Obama.” She invited us to be a Platinum sponsor of this prestigious event we are ever so glad to have played the part we played. I still feel chills saying it. I must thank Dianne and Jeff Yuill Chair of the Board of the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council for including us from early on. Along with the other great events that evening, the message from Candace Thomas of Stewart McKelvey (Future Leaders Champion) on behalf of the African Nova Scotian community was an absolutely touching one.



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


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SEEING IS BELIEVING The Power of Representation in Television

Vinessa Antoine plays Macide Diggs in the series Diggstown

Kane on set for Diggstown



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Running home from school, Floyd Kane spent his evenings reading and drawing comics, watching soap operas with his grandmother, and listening in on dinner table conversations between his mother and aunts about their hopes, dreams, and of course – the latest news around East Preston. “Throughout those years of my life, I developed an appreciation for story. It wasn’t aspirational or an escape from where I grew up, it was just something I enjoyed. I loved making up stories.”

By Georgina Mbamalu Photography contributed

These formative years helped shape him into the groundbreaking television creative he is today. However, it didn’t come easy. Like many creatives in the early days, he had to make a difficult choice between a stable career and following his passions. Kane chose the stable career. He went to law school. Kane continued to write and create connections in the film world while he practiced law. He returned to Nova Scotia after passing the Bar Exam in Toronto and began working as a researcher in the NDP office of Yvonne Atwell. From there, his known love for law and film got him invited to a meeting with Michael Donovan, the president of Salter Street Films (WildBrain/ DHX Media). One year later, an opportunity for a junior lawyer at Salter Street opened and Kane jumped at the chance. “I faxed my resume over and the day I was supposed to fly home to Toronto, they called me in for an interview. By the time I landed home, they called and offered me the job.” Kane was in the perfect position, a lawyer in the creative space. At DHX Media, he progressed from a production lawyer to an in-house producer and soon after was asked to manage the creative development department. Around the same time, he and his wife adopted their son from South Africa. Kane was now a senior executive at the largest independent owner of children’s television in the industry and had a beautiful family living in Toronto. Many would say he had made it. But a few years later, he quit. “I had this plan,” he reflects. “My whole plan was to stay with the company and hope that we would start making hour-long dramas. I would pull out my script, they would buy it and I would move from lawyer to writer.” Unfortunately, there wasn’t a large desire for the company to produce hour-long dramas. This led Kane to an epiphany. “I couldn’t just do a nice segue into my dreams, I had to put everything at risk – 12 years of my career – and jump off the cliff. And that’s what I did.”



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It’s important that with a show with a Black lead, I have those uncomfortable conversations to ask why we don’t have more diversity in, not only the show but, our crew. I need to be the person to take that to task or voice my disappointment when I believe we haven’t done enough.

” Kane’s cliff dive into writing would not come easy. “In the entertainment industry, when you’re known for one thing, it’s hard for others to take you serious in another role,” he said. “People would look at me and wonder ‘Aren’t you the lawyer? Why are you pitching me a script?’ You have to pay your dues. So, I left everything behind. I stopped practicing law and producing. I just focused on writing,” he narrates. For five years Kane worked on getting into writing rooms, building relationships, and writing scripts. He was able to score small jobs and sporadic placements throughout the country, but it wasn’t sustainable. He decided it was time to create independently. An opportunity arose to work on a project with a past collaborator, Amos Adetuyi. The deal fell through and the funder asked Kane if he had any other projects. This resulted in the release of Kane’s feature film Across the Line in 2015. Directed by visionary producer



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and director, Director X, the film which depicted the 1989 Cole Harbour High race riot won Best Atlantic Feature at the Atlantic Film Festival. Since that project, Kane’s company, Freddie Films, has gone on to create a feature film every year and further collaborate with Adetuyi on Kane’s most recent CBC series, Diggstown. The series follows titular character Marcie Diggs, a top corporate lawyer in Toronto who moves back to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia to work in a legal aid office after a family ordeal. The office’s star-studded team of lawyers work directly in the community to find justice while exploring issues of racism, poverty and gender bias. The television show is also the first-ever drama led by a Black Canadian woman on mainstream network TV. Distributors have told Kane that there are places and countries that may never buy into

the show because it is a series that focuses on a Black woman. For Kane, the choice of a Black female lead was natural. “I live an inclusive life. So, I try to do that on the show and work to ensure the projects I create are as inclusive as possible,” he says. “It’s important that with a show with a Black lead, I have those uncomfortable conversations to ask why we don’t have more diversity in not only the show, but, our crew. I need to be the person to take that to task or voice my disappointment when I believe we haven’t done enough.” When creating Diggstown Kane wanted the show to be aspirational in its depiction of Nova Scotia and the legal system in Canada. The challenge that Freddie Films is working on is: getting Marcie and Diggstown to audiences in Canada. “We want to ensure that young Black women know about Diggstown. We want them

to know there is a show that exists with someone that looks like them who’s doing something aspirational, but still has a complicated life.” “Representation is so important because when you see people that are like you going through similar things, you believe you can too,” Floyd remarked. “One of Marcie’s hobbies is surfing and because of this show, a group in Preston created a surf program for young women. When we shot one of the seasons, we invited the girls to participate in filming. It was incredible seeing how excited and eager they were to be there. It was great to see the power of television and the positive impact it can have in our lives.” Kane currently resides in Toronto, Ontario with his family. His next projects include working on a new pilot to pitch in early 2020, the production of a thriller film for May 2020, and the development of a third season of Diggstown.



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I couldn’t just do a nice segue into my dreams, I had to put everything at risk – 12 years of my career – and jump off the cliff.

Trailblazers: Authors – Black Fiction Matters By Georgina Mbamalu

Andre Fenton Photography by Paul Adams From a very young age, North-end Halifax’s Andre Fenton had a love of literature. In elementary school, he would run around the classroom proclaiming to his classmates that he would one day be an author. His love for the written word only magnified; in high school English classes, twopage assignments often expanded into 80 pages by the due date.

Carter, a mixed-race teenager from North-end Halifax and his journey of self-discovery. Fenton described writing the book as an awesome experience and didn’t realize how important this story was for young Black men, a group that is severely underrepresented in the world of young adult fiction.

Fostering connections in the poetry community and a chance encounter with poet laureate El Jones brought Fenton to a slam poetry semi-final event where he placed third and won the finals. When he made the leap to film school, he learned the techniques used to make a film scene so special. It was clear to Fenton and to the world, everything was setting him up to thrive in the creative space. “I always had a big passion for words. No matter the medium. I never saw myself in the fiction I was reading and as a young Black author I wanted to create a real, diverse Nova Scotia that I know, and love and have that reflected in my works.”

Fenton gives back to the community as much as he can by speaking at schools throughout Nova Scotia and speaking in African Canadian Literature courses. “I think it’s important for young Black folks to see another young Black person out there and pursuing their dreams in this field of work.” “A young person came up to me and told me that my writing felt as if it was written for them. Things like that keep me motivated to pursue this line of work. I want Black youths’ feelings to be validated,” he adds. His next book will be released through Nimbus Publishing in June 2020. His third book will be released with Formac Publishing and is currently in its very early stages.

The need for reflection aided Fenton in telling his most recent published work Worthy of Love. The fiction novel highlights the story of Adrian



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Guyleigh Johnson Photography contributed “I feel like I was born a creative,” Guyleigh Johnson states. “When it came to anything I ever did, it was focused on writing.” With a collection of diaries and a library card, Dartmouth born and raised Johnson devoured every book, usually before the library due date, and flexed her creative muscles in her spare time. After the passing of a close family member, writing became Johnson’s way to cope with grief. Her words caught the attention of a publisher who wanted to take Johnson’s words, weaved from diaries to a book deal. However, a month before the book was to be released the company went bankrupt, halting her dreams. What pushed her to keep on the creative path was the support she received from her community. After her book was released, she saw an immediate impact. From packed book signings where she left without a single book to requests for speaking opportunities and writing workshops – these opportunities helped her realize that writing could be a real profession. Soon after, Johnson gained a position working as an African Student Support worker for the Halifax Regional Municipality. During that time, Black students would visit her and talk about the lack of content for Black History Month. Many students felt disrespected that they weren’t learning about their culture or history in their English classes. These conversations birthed her most recent project Afraid of the Dark. The fictional story is the coming of age journey of a 16-year-old girl named Kahlua Thomas. Johnson felt that having a novel for young adults that included a Black character was important not only to Black audiences but, to all audiences. “A non-Black child can read this story and notice a Black child at their school who could be going through these issues. And instead of judging them, they’ll reach out to them. They’ll feel more empathetic to their situation. When our lives are represented and made into mandatory subject matter, Black people become normalized. We are seen as human.” Johnson currently resides in Ottawa and visits home as much as she can. She makes a point to go back to the schools she attended and worked at to put on writing and confidence-building workshops. She just finished a children’s book about Viola Desmond to be released this year and is currently developing a young adult novel on the Jamaican Maroons and their impact in Nova Scotia.



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Shauntay Grant Photography contributed and everything in between, My Hair is Beautiful is a joyful board book with a powerful message of self-love.

Celebrated poet, author, and professor, Shauntay Grant was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her connection with writing started from childhood and never stopped. “My mother would come in to read me stories at night and my father would come in soon after to create raps and poems with me.” That childhood love for written words pushed Grant to publish Up Home, her first book in 2008.

This is a relevant story to tell children from a young age, as the natural hair movement is growing with Black people of all ages embracing their natural textures. “We need more diversity, I wanted to create a book for younger children that addressed that,” Grant said. “It is so important to create a space about hair that Black girls of all shades and hair textures are able to celebrate the beauty of their natural hair and celebrate our diversity as a people.” Having a colourful book like this for Black children to see themselves and their beauty represented is extremely important.

“I learned growing up that stories were not just in books. They were things we said and lived out loud.” Grant reminisced. Going back to school to study for a master’s degree in Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia inspired Grant to turn her self-directed passion into a profession, “I wanted to take my writing seriously. Before this program, I was reading, writing and taking an odd workshop. I felt it was only right to give a dedicated amount of time to developing my craft and create a strong body of work.”

Shauntay currently lives in Halifax and teaches creative writing at Dalhousie University. She is currently working on several projects including playwriting and picture books.

Grant’s My Hair is Beautiful was released last August in 2019. Described as a celebration of natural hair, from afros to cornrows



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By Wanda Taylor


Photography by Ezabriell Fraser

Aiming High “I want to use all the disconnection and suffering we see in the world as an opportunity to create a loving connection among people.” That is a noteworthy goal for a young man with a platform. As a mental health advocate, Kanaar Bell draws on past experiences to fuel his passion for helping others find and claim their calling. For about a year, Bell had been performing and competing in open mic shows when he realized he no longer wanted to compete, but rather use his messages to inspire healing. Perhaps that desire was sparked way back when Bell was growing up in Calgary. As a second-generation Canadian born to a single mother from Jamaica, Bell had lived through many challenges. At an early age, he had to take on the role of “man of the house.” He had also witnessed his sister’s struggles as she battled mental illness. At the same time, Kanaar observed the power and value of community, and how that support carried with it both strength and healing. A Saint Mary’s Football scholarship brought Bell to Nova Scotia in 2014, where he soon recognized a deeper calling to help people. He began a career as a Youth and Community Development Worker while honing his talents for spoken word and public speaking. Together these skills helped launch Soul Talk Entertainment in 2017. “My platform opens the space for people to explore the pivotal moments through critical thinking; and share worldly insights and utilize challenging, innovative visions to become active builders of community and culture.” Soul Talk’s work is grounded in the Social and Emotional Learning Principles of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making. Through Soul Talk, Bell holds live performances and creative writing workshops throughout HRM, hosts keynote talks, and facilitates professional development training for youth engagement professionals. “I understand the way that darkness can hold us captive. I climbed my way out by digging into beliefs that needed to be shifted.” Having been there, Bell has found a way to use his creative passions and past experiences to develop a business that empowers individuals and strengthens communities. He inspires youth to honor their journey, love themselves, and let their SOUL TALK. His message is translating into success, both as a creative and as a businessman. “My business works because there are developmental and economic challenges that persistently affect the social and emotional development of young people. For my young audience, the creative writing workshops provide an outlet to express, understand and decompress. For my adult audience, the professional development training creates a space to re-examine the services they provide and how to bring about success.” Living and working in the province is a source of energy for Bell. The dominant historical story of the Black people’s journey in Nova Scotia, their resiliency, and their strong sense of community have made him feel like he has finally found “home.”

Kanaar Bell, Soul Talk Entertainment

“Nova Scotia has such a strong presence within their Black communities…Black leaders here, young and old, are active in advocating for the development and preservation of their communities. They value family and each other. They actively show forgiveness for past tribulations. The power I felt was almost unexplainable. I always dreamed of being part of communities such as these.”

Kanaar Bell It was the boy who spoke, With no idea, How powerful his voice could be. He would either blaze a path into the sky, Or, Burough a ditch into the ground. His potential was never in question. Only his choices.

Soul Talk Entertainment (902) 830-4877 Kanaar.r.bell@gmail.com – Kanaar Bell



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By Ross Simmonds

4 Ways to Leverage Instagram Stories in 2020 Instagram Stories are taking off. As the leader in image sharing apps, Instagram has become a household name over the last few years. In 2019, a little more than half of Instagram’s one billion users accessed Instagram Stories every single day. The 500 million daily user count is up from 400 million in June 2018. And two million advertisers are buying Stories ads across Facebook’s properties. Regardless of what you think of Instagram Stories, there is no question that there is an opportunity here. More than one billion people are using Instagram every single day with more than 40 million photos being uploaded daily to their platform. Users are racking up a total of 1,000 comments and more than 8,000 likes on Instagram every second. My goal is simple. I want to arm you with some of the tactics being leveraged on Instagram Stories so you can stand out amongst the noise on a very crowded platform.


Use The DMs To Drive Better Engagement

One of the only primary functions within Instagram stories as it relates to engagement is messages. One of the best call to actions you can use is to tell your followers to either click the link in your bio or ask them to tap “Send message” where you can connect with them one-on-one. Direct messages is a great way to build a one-on-one relationship with customers and your target audience. It’s also a place where you can sell and establish a bond that will result in someone advocating for you in the future. When people send me direct messages, I often respond with video responses to make it extra personal.


Create Instagram Story Storms

What’s a Story Storm? In each Instagram Story you only have 30 seconds to say something or show something meaningful – a story storm is uploading a series of videos to your Story to convey a longer message to your audience. In other words, a Story Storm is a continuous stream of updates in which you’re talking to your followers about a specific topic of interest. Rather than trying to squeeze a handful of different insights into one Story – you can upload multiple to share a longer message. I’ve used Story Storms on Instagram with the @HustleGrindCo account and have generated more than 5,000 views. It’s a great way to deliver value to your followers in a way that feels exclusive as the Story is going to disappear after 24 hours.


Ask Questions At The End Of Your Storms

You should leverage the power of a call-to-action on Instagram Stories. The goal with this is to drive more engagement with your followers. At the end of a Story Storm for example, you should be asking questions like: What do you think?! Did I miss anything? What are you reading? What is your favorite ______? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned? Do you agree with me? BLACK to BUSINESS


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Upon establishing a more one-on-one relationship, you’re establishing trust and connection. Think of Instagram direct messages like the comment section on a blog. It’s an opportunity for your followers to give you feedback, add their opinion or simply say thank you for delivering value to their stream.


Collaborate With Other Instagram Accounts for Takeovers

An Instagram takeover is when one Instagram user allows another to create content on their account for a period of time. During this ‘takeover’ the user taking over the account has the ability to connect with a new audience by sharing content to their story. The Instagram Stories takeover is a tactic inspired by the Snapchat Takeover and the idea of Shout For Shouts that many influencers leveraged to grow their accounts to begin with. The benefit here is straight forward. You get a chance to connect with an entirely new audience and the person who takes over your account gets to do the same.

Wrapping Up Instagram averages 300M+ daily users, 500M+ monthly users and more than 4.2 billion likes per day. The opportunity as it exists relating to leveraging Instagram cannot be overlooked by marketers looking to capitalize on Instagram. It’s one feature of many but over the last couple years, I haven’t seen one as promising from Instagram as this. Aspire to create content and strive to create your own path and use Instagram Stories to best engage and connect with your audience.


By Nicole Brooks de Gier


Photography by Paul Adams

Breaking Ground with Untold Stories Sylvia D. Hamilton has made a successful career of sharing the untold stories of Black Nova Scotians and Black Canadians – codifying, transcribing, and recording to permanently document the community’s history. “During my school and university years, I learned nothing about the history and culture of African descended people in Nova Scotia or elsewhere. I had to search out and learn that history for myself,” Hamilton recalled. “In the process, I knew I needed to also find a way to share what I was learning.” The acclaimed writer, poet, and filmmaker released her first documentary 30 years ago. The film, Black Mother, Black Daughter detailed oral storytelling in the African Nova Scotian community and the tradition of passing down stories through the maternal line. Quoting Toni Morrison, ‘If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written, then you must write it,’ Hamilton explained why she made a career telling the stories from her community. “I wanted to make films about us – African descended people in Nova Scotia and Canada.” To support her work, she launched her own production company called Maroon Film. “Making a film is a very labour-intensive undertaking requiring a large investment of time, energy and personal sacrifice. It was only logical that I control and own the films I make and that meant taking on the roles of producer and director,” she said. “My mother, Dr. Marie Hamilton taught me not be afraid to try new things, to take responsibility for myself and to make my own decisions. Years before I taught myself about our history and culture, I rolled up my sleeves to teach myself about setting up and running my own production company.” The namesake for the production company is a tribute to the Maroons, a group of Nova Scotian settlers of African descent who were sent to the province in exile from Jamaica in 1796. The group helped build Government House, the home of Nova Scotia’s Lieutenant Governor, and the Halifax Citadel. “They were independent minded, freedom loving people. I used the name Maroon for my company, Maroon Films Inc., in recognition of that spirit.” Choosing to go it on-her-own is a double-edge sword; with her own creative license and owning the rights to her works came a heavy burden. “Financing documentaries, or any film in fact, is daunting. The funding formula is like a pie with slices of investments coming from a number of sources and often one is contingent on another to be in place before a production can go ahead,” said Hamilton. “Not only am I producing but researching, writing and directing my projects, too.”

Sylvia D. Hamilton, Maroon Films

Hamilton’s work has paved the way for a new generation of African Nova Scotian filmmakers, like North Preston’s Tyler Simmonds. She’s excited by the emerging creative community and hopes to mentor new artists by asking them what they need, instead of telling them how things work. “When you step up to do something new or different, there will be voices saying ‘you can’t do that’, or ‘Black people don’t do that’. We need to help young entrepreneurs block out those negative voices and reassure them that the world is open to them.”



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Angela By Nicole Brooks de Gier Photography contributed

Johnson at work in 2004

Mirabliss promotional shot

In Hollywood, calling yourself a multihyphenate is the ultimate resume booster. Actor-singer-songwriters or model-danceractors pad their resumes with their unique talents to stand apart from the rest. For Angela Johnson, she chooses to downplay her status as journalist-university lecturer-producereditor-communications professional. Despite her long list of undertakings, Johnson demurs at the opportunity to be boastful and instead says, “I’m not remarkable. I’ve enjoyed my work and I just hope it has contributed to something greater.” Born in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Johnson moved often as a child. Her father was in the military and had several posts throughout her childhood. The longest time the family spent in one place was when Johnson was aged 5 through 13 when her father was stationed in West Germany. While growing up in the private military quarters, Johnson who has long preferred to work behind the scenes, often wrote plays and skits for her friends and sister to perform. “I would sell tickets, round-up an audience, and direct my friends from backstage,” she said. “Looking back now, my writing was rudimentary and makes me cringe, but even then, my strength was in creating and organizing.”

Johnson’s CBC TV headshot

It was also while stationed in Germany that in Grade 3, Johnson opted to conduct an interview for a project assigned by her teacher Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith’s assignment feedback shaped the course of the rest of her life. “She told me, ‘Angela, you know that people do what you just did for their grown-up jobs,’” Johnson remembers. “It was the first time I thought about it as a possibility.” After that pivotal conversation, Johnson continued to excel in English literature, creative writing, grammar, language arts and history. She also volunteered to write and edit school newspapers, newsletters and yearbooks.

Eventually, this led Johnson to studying journalism at Ryerson University in Toronto and a 15-year career as a CBC journalist and producer both in Toronto and Halifax.

Johnson says, “I wanted to know why people do the things they do; to discover the uniqueness of others while also demonstrating the similarities in our humanity.” While living abroad and working and studying in Toronto, Johnson experienced a variety of different cultures and peoples. As the newcomer community began to grow in Halifax, she saw an opportunity to share the stories of new Nova Scotians. This was the genesis of her television program Our Community, the result of a successful pitch to her senior producer for a series that shares the backgrounds and customs of diverse communities in Nova Scotia. “I created, wrote, hosted and did the interviews for Our Community,” Johnson shares matterof-factly. Johnson’s passion for understanding people and sharing their stories blossomed into careers in various departments and agencies with the Government of Nova Scotia, including a tenure at the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs. At the same time, she was a lecturer at the University of Kings College School of Journalism, the managing editor of Black to Business magazine, all the while running her own production company, Mirabliss Media Productions. “Creating stories, lesson plans, going into business for myself with my own production company – each role has given me the opportunity to develop and create.” Johnson’s professional accomplishments are staggering and inspirational, yet she pivots from accolades when discussing one of her biggest projects: a documentary titled Holland Remembers that saw her travel to the Netherlands with her grandfather, father and

Two Decades at t Downtime at the Flying Apron BLACK to BUSINESS


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aJohnson a film crew to capture her grandfather reminiscing about his role in the country’s liberation.

The film was first screened at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia with guests that included those who had been part of Johnson’s professional journey up to that point – the province, CBC and the University of Kings College. Her current role as Director of Internal Communications with Nova Scotia’s Public Service Commission is another result of Johnson seizing an opportunity in an otherwise unoccupied space. She develops internal communications strategies for government departments that focus on the way government employees process information and communications on an individual level. “It was an idea to do something that hadn’t been done in government up to that point,” she says. “I developed a plan, piloted it and was given the green light to run with it.” Two years post-pilot, the program has been rolled out across departments. “Recently, my executive director asked me if I’d had a chance to reflect on the success of this program and my own accomplishments since its launch and I admitted that I hadn’t. Yes, this has been a lot of work, but I’ve enjoyed it and there’s more to come.” Like poet Dylan Thomas, Johnson also has promises to keep and miles to go before she sleeps. “I’ve taken to scheduling my downtime and recently, I’ve realized that I need to pull back in order to tell more.” As such, Johnson recently ended her parttime lecturing position at Kings College, a job she held for nearly a decade, and also retired from the position of managing editor of Black to Business magazine. Johnson started as managing editor of the magazine in 2001 and oversaw the content creation, design, and editing of more than 60 issues. “Black to Business is both communitybuilding and business-building,” Johnson says. “It serves as a vehicle for sharing the stories of Black business and also provides free advertising for the businesses.”



Winter 2020

There’s a longstanding tradition of oral storytelling in the African Nova Scotia community. It’s an honour to be a small part of that tradition.

Over her nearly two-decade tenure at the editorial helm of Black to Business, Johnson has witnessed first-hand the evolution of businesses in the community and the rise of youth starts-ups.

Johnson downplays the accolades. “There’s a long-standing tradition of oral storytelling in the African Nova Scotia community. It’s an honour to be a small part of that tradition.”

“I hadn’t realized how impactful the magazine had become until we did our two anniversary issues that featured artwork of all the past covers. Seeing the faces of all the businesspeople over the years who have become successful was a powerful reminder of the community’s growth.”

Though she’s given up two roles to concentrate on her new role with the provincial government and allow for more flexibility in her calendar, Johnson has no plan to take any significant time off. In addition to her business responsibilities, Johnson is also a board member of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, where she is the Vice Chair and the Human Resources Chair.

Johnson also says she has witnessed the shift from “bricks and mortar” trade-based businesses to e-commerce, marketing and other Internet-based companies, which she attributes to the support of the Black Business Initiative’s (BBI) composite companies and its Business is Jammin’ programs for youth. “Business is Jammin’ is teaching our young people how to think and grow as entrepreneurs.” Cynthia Dorrington, former board chair of the BBI applauds Johnson’s contribution to the BBI and community, “As managing editor, Angela’s intuition in creating an impactful and insightful magazine has allowed our numerous stories to be told with kindness and shared with love.”

Johnson in 2019

Johnson and Tukwini Mandela in 2018



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“I’ve always been an advocate for women’s issues and women’s rights,” said Johnson. “Beyond being creative, I want to further support women’s issues – particularly building their self-esteem and encouraging them to find their voices and use them.” Recently an unsolicited e-mail from a university regarding a learning opportunity landed in her inbox. The e-mail was about a master’s degree in Women’s Leadership and Community Development. It piqued her interest. Johnson admits, “I immediately thought, ‘What could this be? Maybe my next chapter?’” Based on her already long list of achievements, Johnson’s next chapter will be nothing other than an unequivocal success.


By Wanda Taylor


Photography by Ezabriell Fraser

The Full Sound “Remain humble. And even when you’re winning, work like you’re in last place!” Words of inspiration from artist Owen O’Sound Lee, a gifted musician, songwriter, and vocal arranger. Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Lee relocated to Nova Scotia in 2014. Before coming to Nova Scotia, he had produced his own album titled The Full Sound in 2012. Having performed alongside industry greats like Mariah Carey, Drake, and Kardinal Official, to name a few, Lee is highly sought after for his incredible musical talents. Here on the East Coast, his impact continues to grow. With roots planted, Lee and his wife are currently raising five children – two sons (ages 7 and 4) and two- year-old triplet daughters. Lee says he came from humble beginnings. Born and raised in Toronto’s west end with his two siblings and Jamaican parents, his inner-city upbringing was filled with musical influences; everything from reggae to gospel. “I discovered my ability to sing at five years old and continued to learn by harmonizing with my mom around the house as she was singing church hymns.” Lee was seven years old when his father brought home a stack of CDs for him one day. In that pile was artists, Canadian born performer, Deborah Cox and the legendary group Boys II Men. Lee memorized all the words and harmonies to almost every track on the CDs, and credits that exposure as having had a direct influence on his current sound. By the time he was eleven, he had written his first song. “Now at age 32, I can still remember how it goes,” he exclaims. Owen attended the Fine Arts Music Program at York University. “I would end up spending hours and hours in the studio creating music, writing and recording for others and for myself.” That immersion honed his technical abilities and launched him into directing musical choirs. His first experience as Musical Director was in 2007, at just 20 years old. Under his leadership, that group went on to release three albums and perform across Ontario and the United States. After relocating to Halifax, Owen served as the Minister of Music at Emmanuel Baptist Church and currently serves as the Program Coordinator for the African Nova Scotian Music Association (ANSMA). Being an artist is being your own business. To be successful, musicians must be and think like entrepreneurs, always planning their next move. As a full-time musician, Lee has been operating as a business for quite some time. His hard work is paying off and while he has the accolades to prove it, he says artists must remain vigilant. “You are your own boss and are responsible for your own fate. As exciting and liberating as your career can be, it can also be extremely volatile and non-secure if you aren’t organized. We have to focus on being industry professionals just as much as we focus on being creatives. This means registering a business, tracking expenses, applying for grants, registering with federations and so on and so forth”

Owen Lee, O’sound

Lee says God, family, and music are his priorities – in that order. His music is often inspired by his experiences and life situations or the things happening around him, and he is grateful for the ability to make a living doing what he loves to do. Those who enjoy his work are inspired by his passion but Lee’s ultimate desire is to serve as a role model for his children.

Owen O’Sound Lee

“I want my kids to never feel guilty about pursuing what they love as a career, and to understand that anything can be achieved through hard work, dedication, and passion.”




O’Sound (902) 579-6533

Winter 2020

Entrepreneur Tool Kit

Staff Contributed – The Entrepreneurship Department

Pricing Perfected

Everyone feels the need to be a price leader. With online shopping impacting the price sensitivity and brand loyalty, entrepreneurs often believe that if their product or service isn’t the cheapest then customers will go elsewhere – and their business will be unsuccessful. This is simply not the case: Did you know that being the cheapest product or service in the market could be devastating your business?

Do the research: Know your customer Part of pricing your product or service is an in-depth understanding of your target audience. Steve Blank has made a significant impact in the role of customer development. Researching his methodologies will significantly help business owners learn about their customers by conducting formal customer development activities.

Know your market

Even if you have the best product or service, selecting an unsuitable pricing model can substantially harm your business. To avoid the common pitfalls, we have outlined three steps and strategies to help you when considering pricing models for your business.

Once you have a clear understanding of your customer, you can begin to develop an understanding of the market you are planning to enter or capitalize on. This is also the case for existing businesses entering new markets or examining their pricing strategies. There are many market research databases and organizations, including the Black Business Initiative, that can assist you with market research.

Know your costs Conducting a thorough analysis of the costs associated with your product or service is a critical step in the pricing process, as some costs are often overlooked. These include: Overhead, value of time, permits, licenses, dues, insurance, legal costs, accounting costs, borrowing costs, taxes, credit card processing fees, IT support, etc.



Know when to adjust prices


If you have been in business for a while, you may recognize a need or opportunity to raise your prices. While it can seem counterintuitive, remember that your business costs such as rent, materials, travel, etc., will rise with inflation. It is important for your prices to move with your business costs.

Select a strategy: Competition-based pricing Competition-based pricing, also known as competitive pricing or competitor-based pricing, is based solely on the other competitors in the market. This model does not consider the costs of creating or providing the product or service. It is common for businesses where a slight price difference may be the deciding factor for customers. Whether you have a slightly higher or slightly lower price than your competition, competitive pricing is one way to stay competitive and keep your pricing dynamic.

Need a Business Loan? Approvals Made Locally.

Cost-plus pricing

To find your nearest CBDC visit www.cbdc.ca or call 1-888-303-2232

A cost-plus pricing strategy focuses on the cost of producing your product or service. It is sometimes called markup pricing. This is where you “markup” your price based on the desired profit. This pricing strategy is common in retail, specifically where a business sells physical products.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is pleased to provide financial support to the CBDCs in Atlantic Canada. BLACK to BUSINESS


Winter 2020

It is not always the best fit for service businesses, as they typically offer far great value than the costs they incur to create the services. In addition, their costs are more closely aligned to operational costs and overhead.

fashion and the automotive industry. Strong marketing is imperative as pricing is a direct function of brand awareness and perception.

Project-based pricing

Dynamic pricing

Project based pricing, or flat fee pricing, is often used in industries such as construction, consulting, business services, etc. A fee is agreed upon prior to the delivery of the product or service and is often contractbound. Costs may shift slightly throughout the project; however, the intention is that the final cost is in line with the agreement.

Dynamic pricing, sometimes called demand pricing, is a pricing model that moves with supply and customer demand. Some of the industries that use this model are hotels and airlines. These industries are often associated with “peak seasons� where costs are higher due to increased demand.

Freemium pricing

Final step:

Free + Premium = freemium. This pricing strategy gives a basic level of service for free with extra features or capabilities at an additional cost. When used strategically, the free offering can create popularity and help customers see the value of the offering, eventually captivating and convincing them to pay a fee for extra features.

Get feedback There are numerous ways to get feedback on your pricing. You can ask potential customers, past clients, look at changes in sales or inquiries, etc. It is wiser to proactively and continuously seek feedback on your pricing than to wait for it to affect your sales.

High-low pricing High-Low pricing is based on the novelty of a product or service. In this pricing model, prices are set high as the product launches. Over time, prices drop gradually. The products are often sold at clearance prices as a new version or replacement is introduced to the market. We typically see this model in fashion and technology and it is appealing because it caters to early adopters as well as bargain hunters looking to purchase items at a deep discount.

Adjust accordingly Entrepreneurship is about agility and the ability to adapt. Entrepreneurs need to stay up to date on market trends, competitor behavior, and consumer behavior. Being unaware of shifts in the market can have significant impact on the profitability of your businesses.

Hourly pricing

BBI can help!

Hourly pricing or rate-based pricing is often used by consultants, professionals, and other individuals providing services. The individual sets an hourly rate for their time. Some clients opposed to this model as they believe it has the potential to disincentivize efficiency.

If you would like support pricing your product or service, please contact one of our knowledgeable Entrepreneurial Engagement Managers at bbi@bbi.ns.ca, call 902-426-8683, or visit our website www.bbi.ca

Penetration pricing Penetration pricing is a strategy where prices are set significantly lower than market value to persuade customers to move away from competition. The prices that are set may create a loss on each sale initially, but the rationale is that the price will rise in the future and customers will stay brand loyal. The strategy is often used by software companies and other industries with competitive, well developed markets.

Premium pricing Premium pricing is a pricing model that focuses on the perceived value to customers. This is sometimes referred to as luxury pricing. This model is often applied to brands which are believed to carry an element of prestige and this is reflected in the price. Premium pricing is commonly used in luxury

The Black Loyalist Heritage Centre tells the story of the largest & most influential communities of free Black people in the world outside of Africa from 1783 to 1791 in Nova Scotia.

Museum Hours

June to Mid-October Open Daily 10 am to 5 pm October 16 to May 31 Open Monday to Friday 9 am to 4pm



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Contact Information 119 Old Birchtown Road Shelburne, NS B0T 1W0 Office: (902) 875-1310 Museum: (902) 875-1293 Fax: (902) 875-1352 www.blackloyalist.com

NE2020 XT UP BIJ Black Youth Leadership Summit

Youth lead. Communities lifted.

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Business Is Jammin'

Shakisha’s ability to project manage, upgrade technology and partner with new communities has taken our organization to a whole new level. SARAH ARNOLD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR HALIFAX LEARNING CENTRES The Graduate to Opportunity Program provides salary contributions to small businesses, start-up companies, social enterprises, and non-profit organizations to help hire a recent grad. To breathe new life into your workforce, visit NOVASCOTIA.CA/GTO


BBI News – BIJ PARTNER SHOWCASE February 28-March 1, 2020

The Halifax Black Film Festival The Halifax Black Film Festival (HBFF) is excited to be celebrating its fourth edition during African Heritage Month. Having started off with only one film, the festival is gaining traction and is dedicated to growing and becoming a true diversity movement. A film festival with a bold ambition to change social perspectives, HBFF is devoted to giving unique voices in cinema the opportunity to present audiences with new ways of looking at the world. It’s important to talk about diversity and inclusion and the power of film can never be discounted as an impactful medium for change. Films are powerful and they evoke an immediate emotional response. The Halifax Black Film Festival celebrates diversity within Black communities through films that matter. Films illuminate, entertain and invite audiences to see the world from another person’s experience. When we share Black films with viewers of all colour and ethnic origins, we are better able to recognize the differences that make us unique and celebrate the shared values that bring us together. The HBFF will be bringing another amazing line up of films on the reality of Black people in Nova Scotia and around the globe. Coming together through art allows members of all cultural communities to better understand

one another. Sadly, the state of diversity on and off-screen in Nova Scotia is dismal. The HBFF is on a mission to change that and not only are they presenting all Nova Scotians an opportunity to view the world through a different lens, they are also tackling racism head on using an excellent medium. The HBFF is independent and locally operated. It was created by the Fabienne Colas Foundation (FCF) which also founded the Montreal International Black Film Festival in 2005 – Canada’s largest Black film festival – as well as the Toronto Black Film Festival in 2013 – Canada’s biggest celebration of Black History Month. After years of spreading diversity on and off-screen in Montreal and Toronto, the FCF wanted to bring this great festival to Halifax, a city that holds Canada’s oldest Black population. One of their newest programs, Being Black in Halifax, is part of a National Youth and Diversity Initiative called Being Black in Canada, featuring Montreal, Toronto and Halifax. The program in Halifax recently provided four Black filmmakers (age 18–30 years) an opportunity to create a short documentary under the tutelage and mentorship of professional filmmakers. During the process, the film makers had access to producers, directors, post-production crew,



Winter 2020

workshops and professional equipment to help them perfect their craft and shoot their films. The films were then presented during Canadian tours at the 15th annual Montreal International Black Film Festival in September 2019. They will also be presented at the eighth annual Toronto Black Film Festival and at the fourth edition of the Halifax Black Festival in February 2020. In addition to tackling diversity through film, the HBFF holds powerful panels and workshops. Through their Black Market initiative, they will present a series of conferences at the Halifax Central Library addressing not only the film industry but also other issues important to Black communities such as building wealth. Business is Jammin’ (BIJ) has partnered with HBFF to bring experienced and esteemed business leaders to the table with the aim of facilitating the acquisition of knowledge and tools to bring about greater success. Be a part of the diversity movement. Find more details at halifaxblackfilm.com, HalifaxBlackFilm on Instagram and Halifax Black Film Festival – HBFF on Facebook. If you are an aspiring Black filmmaker, check outhalifaxblackfilm.com. You could be the next Spike Lee or Ava DuVernay!


A Conversation Starter Develop Nova Scotia was thrilled to bring together partners for the Cultural Expression Showcase as a “conversation starter” to 2019’s A Conversation with Barack Obama. A true conversation only takes place when the diverse voices at the table reflect who we are as a province. At Develop Nova Scotia, we love conversations that are genuine and inclusive, reflect varied cultures and lived experiences, and run just a touch rowdy. These are the conversations that connect us to each other and to the world. The cultural expression showcase was a true celebration of Nova Scotia’s diverse and creative communities, heritage, identities and languages with a special emphasis on our African Nova Scotian, Mi’kmaq, Acadian, Gaelic and Celtic cultures. Develop Nova Scotia’s Director of People & Strategy, Anna Marenick, played a major role in bringing the various participants together.

What unique opportunity did the event present? Let’s be honest. Being asked to support a visit by Barack Obama was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we would have likely said yes, no matter the ask. That said, we really value our trusted partnership with Black

Business Initiative (BBI). We were honoured when they and the Black Cultural Centre for Nova Scotia approached us to help bring their vision of a cultural showcase to life. One of the things we’re most proud of is how much stronger our relationships with them and the other community partners at the table like Halifax Stanfield International Airport, Brookes & Fiona Diamond, and the Marriott Halifax Harbourfront grew. Now, we’re thinking of opportunities to work together on future projects.

What do you hope event attendees took away from the performances? We were confident attendees would walk away feeling inspired after hearing Barack Obama speak. We also believe that they were inspired before he even walked onto the stage through the phenomenal storytelling, music and dance performances. Nova Scotia has a lot to be proud of, and we were proud to help shine a light on the amazing talent and culture that exists here at home, and how that is a real competitive and strategic advantage for us. Hopefully, those in attendance saw the role that culture plays in our economy and society.

What drove Develop Nova Scotia’s involvement in the Cultural Expression Showcase? Why is this important to Develop Nova Scotia? We build places for people. To do that right, we need to involve all Nova Scotians in the work to build places, and deliberately include Nova Scotians who may not have felt included to participate in that process before. We want to celebrate the diversity of our province and show off the richness of our culture in any way we can. We knew that being a part of showcasing our culture to thousands of people who had come to see the President speak was too good an opportunity to pass up. Our diverse culture makes us strong. It’s why people choose to live here, to visit here, to put down roots here. We want to do our part to make sure people feel that they belong here. developns.ca

Did you know that you can drop by the BBI office every Thursday from 2-3pm to learn more about




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Meet the Staff

Matthew J. Martel Chief Operating Officer A Certified Project Manager who believes in a ‘people-first’ approach to business, Matthew James Martel is the Chief Operating Officer at the Black Business Initiative (BBI). He was born in Cape Breton, moving to Halifax to obtain a Bachelor’s degree in Management from Dalhousie University, followed by a Master’s degree in Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation from the Sobey School of Business. A serial entrepreneur, Matthew also has an extensive background in leadership, Human Resources, change management, and strategic planning. Prior to welcoming the opportunity at BBI, he held roles at the Halifax Regional Municipality, Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette, and also served on the Fusion Halifax Board as the Director of Entrepreneurship. With an aptitude for strategic thinking and solving complex problems, Matthew enjoys working with groups to troubleshoot challenging issues and he leverages these skills to support his team and organization. Matthew’s ability to observe and to understand the contributions of different facets of a company allows him to effectively work with individuals and teams to innovate organizational processes. Matthew is passionate about Canadian entrepreneurship, especially working to foster and grow minority-led enterprises. He resonates with the saying that, “One moment can change a day, one day can change a life, and one life can change the world.” Matthew is proud that in his current role, he can use his expertise to have a positive social and economic impact on the African Nova Scotian entrepreneurial experience and the Black business community. Matthew is considering pursuing a Doctorate degree and further certifications, such as the Institute of Corporate Directors Designation. When he is not in the office, Matthew is an avid camper who enjoys being outdoors surrounded by nature, which gives him the opportunity to practice mindfulness and gratitude.

Gabriela Mkonde Accounting Assistant Raised in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, Gabriela moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia to complete a Bachelor of Administration with a major in accounting and a minor in management at Mount Saint Vincent University. Gabriela is currently the Accounting Assistant at the Black Business Initiative. Before joining BBI, Gabriela worked with youth as a Day Camp Leader and with students as an Athletics and Recreation Facility Assistant. Passionate about community and social impact, Gabriela has led and been a part of many fundraising campaigns. She was a lead organizer for a Feed Nova Scotia food drive and a charity event in Tanzania to raise awareness and funds for those living with Cystic Fibrosis. From her volunteer work and experience in event organization, Gabriela has honed her communication skills, her ability to adapt to situations, and her ability to work with diverse groups. Gabriela is a self-driven and dedicated member of the team. She is passionate and knowledgeable about her work. Adept at paying attention to detail and providing information efficiently, Gabriela is an asset to her team as she is able to pull data to inform organization’s projects. Gabriela believes in the payoff of hard work, citing that the results may take time, but willpower and patience will yield positive outcomes. A multi-linguist, Gabriela enjoys learning new languages. She is currently enrolled in the CPA Atlantic program and is working towards receiving her CPA designation. When Gabriela is not studying, she enjoys playing and watching soccer, as well as cooking with her friends and family.



Winter 2020

BIJ Report

Winter 2020 By Ashley Hill, Business is Jammin’ Youth Program Coordinator

Golf Tournament The 2019 BIJ Charity Golf Tournament was a huge success! We would like to thank all of those who sponsored, donated prize items, played and attended our 10th Annual Charity Golf Tournament. A special thank you to our sponsors: Scotiabank, CBCL Limited, Saint Mary’s Entrepreneurship Centre, Covers Media Group, PSAC Atlantic, Dalhousie University and Labatt Brewing.

A big congratulations to CBCL Limited, our 10th Annual Charity Golf Tournament Champions! We will see you on the green next year!

#TheFuture100 BIJ & The Delmore Buddy Daye Learning Institute (DBDLI) joined forces to offer 100 Black youth the once in a lifetime opportunity to attend A Conversation with Barack Obama on November 13, 2019. 100 emerging Black leaders from across Nova Scotia networked and connected at #TheFuture100 Networking Event hosted by our friends at Colour in Halifax. The support received from Colour was outstanding. They gave our youth the opportunity to share their own stories and to make lasting connections.

A big thank you to Dave Culligan and his team at threesixfive Media Inc. for capturing the incredible experience!



Winter 2020

Break into Business March Break Camp!


This free week-long business camp focuses on leadership and entrepreneurship through education and personal development in an energetic and interactive environment. Youth will explore how their passions can become innovative business ideas. They will go through the entrepreneurial process by creating and running their own business for a day!



Visit businessisjammin.ca to sign up your camper!

Youth Innovation Tour BIJ partnered with the Creative Destruction Lab and Imhotep’s Legacy Academy to host a Youth Innovation Tour in January. Grade 10 students from Auburn Drive High School visited the Centre for Ocean Ventures & Entrepreneurship (COVE) for a day of experiential learning. The participants saw technology and innovation firsthand, learned from current inventors, and put their creativity to work to build marine turbines!

Halifax Chamber Fall Dinner BIJ had the privilege of attending the Halifax Chamber of Commerce Fall Dinner as the Presenting Sponsor Stewart McKelvey’s Charity of Choice! We networked and showcased some of the amazing Black youth entrepreneurs in the province. Aliyah, Rebekah, and Ashley even had the opportunity to speak about the impact of BIJ’s programming. On stage, we were surprised with a very generous donation from our friends at Eastlink. Donations like these will help fund the free programs that we run to empower Black youth.

Auburn Eagles building marine turbines

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Barack Obama


” 27

Dr. Sherry Scully, Director of Learning & Organizational Development with COVE teaching youth about revolutionary ocean tech advances Winter 2020

Ask The BBI

By Ellis Ffrench, Entrepreneurial Engagement Manager

What Can Small Businesses do with Big Data? In this rapidly changing digital environment, the days of customer interaction requiring a physical storefront are long gone. On a daily basis, customers are now interacting with their favorite businesses and brands through e-commerce, social media platforms, digital marketing campaigns and much more. This creates the ability for businesses to gather data from consumers like never before. Small businesses can gain a competitive advantage not only by simply gathering consumer data, but by tracking, measuring, analyzing and turning the information gathered into various business strategies. Let’s start with a few examples of the types of data small businesses should be collecting: • Relevant contact information: It is vital to have the ability to reach out, market, sell, and gain insight from your current customers and potential consumers.

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Learning Institute

Excellence in Africentric Education & Research

5450 Cornwallis Street, Halifax, NS B3K 1A9

• User Experience: Understanding what parts of your website, social media pages, marketing campaigns, etc. are the most popular is key. It can help guide the business in making necessary adjustments to more accurately hit what the consumer wants. • Buying Behavior: By tracking buying behavior, a small business should be able to answer questions like: • Are they interacting with us often? • Are they repeat customers? • Are they waiting for deals or sales to purchase? • How likely are customers willing to recommend our service or product? The process of taking raw data and turning it into a tangible narrative can help answer endless questions that can provide important insight and direction for the business. • Why the customer left: Customer turnover is expected, but if you capture the reasons why a customer is no longer purchasing or interacting with your products or services, you might be able to establish new practices for customer retention. Gathering the information is the first step. After you gather the raw data it is a necessary step to convert that into actionable information. The ability to interpret that information can create a major competitive advantage for your business and and help you:


• Find new customers • Increase customer retention • Improve customer service


• Better direct marketing efforts • Track social media interaction and impact • Predict sales and market trends

Learn www.dbdli.ca f l i i BLACK to BUSINESS


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Gathering consumer data and implementing it into your business strategy is a great way to create a competitive advantage. Taking the first step is key and if you aren’t sure where to start, a great resource is Google Analytics. It is a free software that lets you analyze the traffic on your website. It tracks visitor behavior by outlining where traffic is coming from, how audiences are engaging, how long visitors are staying, etc.

Regional Report By Rodger Smith, Entrepreneur Engagement Manager The year 2019 was historic for all of us current and former residents of the communities of North Preston, East Preston and Cherrybrook/ Lake Loon, as we held our first-ever Preston Township Homecoming Reunion in August. Former residents came home from across Canada and various parts of the United States for this week-long celebration which kicked off with a meet-and-greet. One of the main highlights was a play titled The Power of Preston, written and directed by Anne Johnson-MacDonald, Principal of Nelson Whynder Elementary School in North Preston. The cast, commentators and host band comprised of residents from all three communities. There were two soldout shows with almost 600 patrons. Equally memorable, was the uplifting Sunday church service attended by well over 1,200 people. Other highlights included a parade and special days dedicated to each community. The festivities were crowned with a gala dinner and dance with guest speaker Senator Wanda Thomas Bernard. BBI extends heartfelt congratulations to the reunion committee for a job excellently done. BBI continues to engage with business owners in Black communities, supporting them as they refine their ideas and develop business plans. In July, we visited a business owner in Yarmouth who was renovating their business premises, a walk-up window ice cream shop. With the renovations, they will be able to add food items to their menu and also provide indoor and outdoor dining for their clients. The renovations are expected to be completed in Spring, 2020. I have on occasion been invited to be part of some community projects, development conversations, as well as other events both in Black communities and in other Nova Scotia communities.

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



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6/21/2018 3:43:55 PM

Training Report By Lydia Phillip, Training & Communications Manager

The Black Business Initiative (BBI)’s Training Department provides free business and professional development courses to Black and racially visible minority entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs. Training offerings are delivered through 11-week programs, workshops, conferences, business consultations, and more.

InMotion: Funding Forward Momentum

Wonder Women Conference

In partnership with Sobeys, we launched a brand new initiative to highlight Black entrepreneurs in the province. InMotion is a pitch competition targeting Black entrepreneurs ages 18-39 from across Nova Scotia. On October 24th, four finalists pitched their businesses for an opportunity to win $2.500 at the first ever InMotion pitch competition. Congratulations to the four incredible finalists and the winner, Nicholas Stoddard of Dart Frog Events.

Hosted by the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, the Wonder Women Conference brought together over 400 women for a day of workshops, panels, networking and empowerment. BBI invited three incredible clients to attend the conference, showcase their products and services and make connections. During the conference, attendees stopped by the BBI booth to pick up a Black Business Directory, sample some Blue Nile products, learn about BIJ Youth programs, and chat with the entrepreneurs.

Winter 2020 Training Schedule Our Winter 2020 Training program begins the week of February 24 with the following course offerings: • Entrepreneurship Essentials • E-commerce

Community Tax Clinics BBI has partnered with Saint Mary’s University to provide space to host free community tax clinics. 4th year accounting students, hosted through the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (CVITP), will be on site to file personal tax returns for families and individuals. Students will support drop-in clients on a first-come-first-served basis. All are welcome! The dates and times are below:

The four InMotion pitch competition finalists

Week of March 16: • Wednesday, March 18 (9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.) • Thursday, March 19 (1:00 - 4:00 p.m.) • Friday, March 20 (9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.) • Friday, March 20 (1:00 - 4:00 p.m.)

Week of March 23: • Wednesday, March 25 (9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.) • Thursday, March 26 (1:00 - 4:00 p.m.) • Friday, March 27 (9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.) • Friday, March 27 (1:00 - 4:00 p.m.)

Have a business idea? Every Thursday between 2pm-3pm, drop in to the BBI office to chat with one of our knowledgeable Entrepreneurial Engagement Managers and learn about how BBI can assist you at any stage of your business. Thursdays don’t work for you? Not a problem! Give us a call at 902-426-8683 and plan a visit!

InMotion pitch competition winner, Nicholas Stoddard (center) with Paul MacLeod of Sobeys (left) and Matthew Martel of BBI (right) BLACK to BUSINESS


Winter 2020

Break Into Business March Break Camp Location

The Bridge Halifax 5553 Bloomfield Street Halifax NS B3K 1S7


9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.


FREE camp $25 refundable deposit per family to hold spot. Space is limited!



For more information bijyouth@bbi.ns.ca 902-476-9764

This free week-long business camp focuses on leadership and entrepreneurship through education and personal development. Youth will explore how their passions can become innovative business ideas. They will go through the entrepreneurial process by creating and running their own business for a day.

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E N I L EAD 20



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Dr. Rudy Ffrench Youth Trailblazer Award recognizing contributions to the community


Be a high school student of African Descent currently enrolled in Grade 12. Maintain a B average in their studies Be involved in community and/or school activities, for example, involved with club sports, arts, science society and so on. Identify one school sponsor (faculty, administrator, and or coach) and one public or private community partner who will submit a letter of recommendation for applicant(s). Submit one essay (up to one thousand words) and either one to six photos or one short video (less than 2 minutes) that accurately ‘tells the story’ of their community involvement, academic commitment, or their commitment to excel in school athletics or arts.