This is a link to an article by Joel Ceausu of The Suburban on Ujamaa Initiative for Black Entrepreneurship (U.I.B.E.), a project supporting English-speaking Black entrepreneurs
By Joel Ceausu, March 6th, 2013
It may take a pitch and a dream, but it also takes guts, knowhow and a little guidance along the way. Most entrepreneurs face numerous challenges, but minority communities encounter added obstacles like little financial or counselling support, says Tiffany Callender, project manager of the Ujamaa Initiative for Black Entrepreneurship (UIBE).
Made possible through a partnership between the Côte des Neiges Black Community Association (CDNBCA) and YES Montreal, and funded by Quebec’s Finance Ministry, the program (“Ujamaa” is Swahili for people coming together) promotes entrepreneurship in Montreal’s English-speaking black community.
Born of a dearth of financing for English-speaking entrepreneurs and high unemployment in the black community, UIBE helps with support and training for potential and existing business owners. “People needing help with start-up loans, business plans and counselling come to us,” says Callender at the Black Community Association office, where the UIBE serves as a gateway to a million-dollar Quebec investment fund — the Fonds afro-entrepreneurs. “We help with everything from marketing to planning,” says development agent Arnaud Segla. “We help you stick to a plan and stay focused.”
Black anglophones do business in all sectors, from banking and mechanics to décor and translation, with “slightly higher” numbers of women than men, and for good reason says Callender. “In our community many women are the sole household earners, and often reach into their own ingenuity and skills to create a business, be it catering, fashion or childcare. That’s real entrepreneurship.”
March is a busy month for the UIBE, whose “Pitch the Dream” contest helps people formulate and complete a business plan and win prizes bragging rights and $50,000 in cash and services-in-kind from local companies. But the big event is the third annual Montreal Black Entrepreneurship Conference and Expo at the Westin Hotel on March 23. “It’s a rare and valuable opportunity for English-speaking entrepreneurs,” says Callender, “because there are so few resources like this, in English, available.”
Some 300 business-minded Montrealers will participate in free workshops with experts speaking on marketing, planning, financing and more, with everything tailored to attendee requirements. “Whether your business is a few days old or many years in operation, we have something for you,” says UIBE’s Erica Jabouin. “If you’re new with a limited budget, you’ll want to come learn about social media to market your business. More established enterprises may need help with larger objectives.”
UIBE also serves as a business incubator and liaison for black entrepreneurs to access other English services, and Callender has no time for language issues. “Is it fair to tell someone with skills and ideas to stop what they are trying to do so they can go learn French? When there’s no cash in their account, don’t talk about language. When they create their own job they create immense possibilities.”
The CDNBCA recently celebrated 40 years of service. Today, their offices are rife with activities like after-school programs for children of English-speaking immigrants. “Bill 101 makes these parents unable to help them with their homework,” says Callender. “So we help the kids with homework, and the parents with English courses. There’s nothing like it,” she says proudly. Indeed, people using those services are simply local residents, whether Hungarian, Filipino or West Indian. “As a second- and third-generation organization we’ve spread out and serve the entire community.” The community association in other words, is true to its name, taking the “Côte des Neiges” part of their title very seriously.
For more information visit www.cdnbca.org