Black Canadian Women in Action Expo aims to empower business owners in Alberta

Entrepreneurs from across the province will have the chance to meet business experts and learn how to deliver the perfect business pitch.

Expo being held at Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel on Friday and Saturday

A woman wearing a hat wears a shirt with the label The Melanin Studio.
Megan Vernon is the CEO of The Melanin Studio, a spa that aims to offer inclusive beauty services. She will be attending the first ever Black Canadian Women in Action Expo on Friday. (Submitted by Megan Vernon)

When Megan Vernon created her business, The Melanin Studio, she wanted to create a space that helped people feel comfortable while getting spa treatments. 

Now, Vernon will also have access to a space that will help her grow as an entrepreneur when she attends the first-ever Black Canadian Women in Action Expo in Edmonton this week. 

"It allows us to put our business on a platform, that is not only going to reach our immediate community but a wider range of communities in around Edmonton and hopefully Alberta and Canada," Vernon said. 

The expo is being organized by the non-profit organization Black Canadian Women in Action, which has chapters in Edmonton, Calgary and Regina. 

LISTEN | Founder and CEO of Black Canadian Women in Action speaks to CBC's Edmonton AM:

From meeting business experts to delivering the perfect business pitch, a new Edmonton event aims to empower Black women in business. The first-ever Black Canadian Women in Action Expo takes place this Friday and Saturday in Edmonton. Jeanne Lehman is the founder and CEO of BCW in Action, the local organization behind the new event.

The group is hosting the expo to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses by helping them network with established professionals, crafting the perfect pitch and providing cash awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

"It's hard because each entrepreneur has their different challenges," Vernon said.

"We don't have that much access to resources, so this is giving us a platform to have a chance and have a backbone to stand on with the resources that they're offering us."

A woman wear an orange blazer while smiling with her arms crossed.
Jeanne Lehman is the founder and CEO of the non-profit Black Canadian Women in Action. (Submitted by Jeanne Lehman)

Jeanne Lehman, founder and CEO of Black Canadian Women in Action, said the vision for the expo came after she spoke to other Black women who wanted a space to talk about their challenges and brainstorm possible solutions. 

Lehman said on Tuesday, in an interview with CBC's Edmonton AM, she heard entrepreneurs encounter similar issues like accessing capital, navigating how to start a business in a new country and being young parents. 

To address some of these issues, the expo will host a pitch competition which will provide a safe space for budding entrepreneurs to workshop their ideas and potentially catch the eye of investors. 

From the conversations Lehman has with other women, she knows that there is a passion from these women to run a business. 

 "I really want people to come and see what these women can offer," Lehman said.

The expo will be held at the Coast Edmonton Plaza Hotel on Friday and Saturday. 

For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.