Black chamber of commerce launches P.E.I. chapter
Organizers say they plan to host a Black business expo in the coming months
Black Island entrepreneurs will now have a new place to turn for help.
The Canadian Black Chamber of Commerce (CBCC) launched its P.E.I. chapter on Thursday at an event attended by about 30 people, including aspiring entrepreneurs and officials with the City of Charlottetown, Town of Stratford and the province.
"Since 18 years ago when I came to PEI, the Black diaspora has been growing exponentially," said Kevin Lloyd, regional business manager for CBCC.
"A lot of the demographics are now diverse here. A lot of [Black Islanders] are here who want to start businesses and they don't have the tools and the knowledge to do so."
Lloyd, an entrepreneur himself, started a drilling and blasting company after working in the mining industry for years.
"The whole country is there for the taking because yes, I do live in P.E.I., but all of my drilling and blasting is done in Nova Scotia," he said.
An important part of the chamber's mission, Lloyd said, is to connect Black folks with funding opportunities that they may not know are available to them.
"They don't have the information. They don't know where to go to," he said.
"Funding is the cornerstone of any business, if you don't have funding to do your business, you can't do your business."
Bringing Black legacy together
Michael Forrest, the CBCC's founder, travelled to P.E.I. for the launch, which included a ribbon cutting.
"Many Black communities … whether from the African continent or from the Caribbean or born here in this great country of Canada, we want to find ways to connect you to make sure that we can start creating and bringing the legacy of our Black global history together in one place, one time," he said.
The organization said the needs of entrepreneurs and businesses change depending on where they are located in the country.
"Everyone's got their unique struggles and I find that the small business struggle is real no matter where it is," Forrest said.
Organizers said the new chapter will be getting to work immediately and plan to host a Black business expo in the coming months.
Lloyd said one of his goals is to create greater connectivity in P.E.I.'s Black community.
"My vision is for every single one of us to be successful and build together. "
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.