Nova Scotia·Video

N.S. program aims to help young Black women build businesses

The African Nova Scotian Young Women's Entrepreneurship Program offers young women the tools and resources to grow their business.

Program participants received an hourly stipend for up to 40 hours a week

The 12-week program offers young entrepreneurs tools and resources to grow their business. (Kyah Sparks/CBC)

When Sherelle Reddick heard about the African Nova Scotian Young Women's Entrepreneurship Program, she knew it was exactly the support she was searching for.

"There's so many options to have one-on-one support in this program," said Reddick, 30, who had the inspiration to launch an online fashion store but didn't know how to get started.

"I literally started the program with an idea and I'm leaving with a business."

Within the 12-week program, Reddick and 13 other Black women received access to tools, resources, and education to grow their businesses.

The virtual program was created through Common Good Solutions Project 561 and Tineke Weld was the project co-ordinator.

"We were able to offer weekly classes alongside an online video course with some course work," said Weld.

Unemployment rates are higher among young Black Nova Scotian adults compared to the overall unemployment rate for Nova Scotians.

These young, Black women are building businesses during COVID-19

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The African Nova Scotian Young Women's Entrepreneurship Program offers Black women support and a stipend for 12 weeks to help them grow their businesses. 3:41

The African Nova Scotian Youth Employment Lab has been a project of Common Good Solutions and the One North End Community Economic Development Society, with support from the province.

From research and group conversations, they found barriers young Black adults in the province face such as lack of child care, discrimination based on last name or address, and self-doubt encouraged by racist stereotypes.

It will take 561 jobs to lower the unemployment rate in the Black Nova Scotian community to where the rest of the province stands, hence the name, Project 561.

Program participants received an hourly stipend for up to 40 hours a week.

The project is funded through the government of Canada's youth employment skills strategy.

The Common Good program is funded through the government of Canada's youth employment skills strategy. (Kyah Sparks/CBC)

Martez Wiggins is the program officer for Project 561.

"We're trying to create 561 jobs over the next three years to [match] the unemployment rate of ANS youth to the rest of the province. That will allow people to find meaningful employment, not just a job at McDonald's, but learning the skills and getting the training required to have lasting careers," said Wiggins.

"One of the most exciting and beneficial pieces of the program that we found was the weekly coaching, as well as peer circles where the participants had the chance to connect with each other and provide support and connections to each other and each other's communities," said Weld.

Thirteen young Black Nova Scotians participated in the 12-week course. (Kyah Sparks/CBC)

Reddick said that was one of the best parts.

"We all kind of had the same struggles, we all kind of come from the same type of background, we all probably had some, at one point in our life, some not so nice things said to us or about us, about you know ideas or ways we have dressed or things like that growing up."

Common Goods Solutions Project 561 is also offering an apprenticeship and pre-trades program for Black Nova Scotian adults.

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.

(CBC)

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