Black Entrepreneurs and Business Society of Canada
Credit: Black Entrepreneurs and Business Society of Canada. Team members Peter Mwariga, Judy Bosire, Candace Lauren, Jackee Kasandy and Eric Pilgrim

Hosted by the Black Entrepreneurs and Business Society of Canada, this trailblazing summit brings the community together February 24

When entrepreneur Jackee Kasandy first started out, she met with WeBC (formerly the Women’s Enterprise Centre) to find support. “They are an amazing organization, and they helped me make a business plan,” Kasandy says. “But at the end, they said, Your business needs to be two years old before we can fund you. I looked at them and I said, How am I going to get to two years if you’re not going to fund me?” 

It’s a problem that many BIPOC entrepreneurs in Canada face: the barrier to funding is high. Systemic racism builds it higher. “To get any loan, they want you to have a house or some other collateral,” Kasandy explains. “If you’re an immigrant or you don’t have generational wealth, you may not have access to this.”

READ MORE: Futurpreneur launches Startup and Prosper podcast for young Black entrepreneurs

Kasandy now owns her own eponymous retail store on Granville Island. As the founder of the Black Entrepreneurs and Business Society of Canada, she’s determined to make sure that other Black business owners don’t have the same experience that she did. That’s one of the goals of the Black Business Summit, a new venture organized by Kasandy taking place on Thursday, February 24. 

According to Kasandy, the online Summit’s goal is to bridge the gap between Black business owners and professional services, as well as strengthen the network of local Black entrepreneurs. She also hopes to spark conversation around changing the barriers to funding she encountered when starting her business. “We need to change the system—or build a new system—so it starts working to include communities that don’t get included.”

The Summit is free to Black entrepreneurs, which wasn’t the original plan: Kasandy shares that an anonymous donor reached out to offer support and is now sponsoring all Black entrepreneurs, youth and businesspeople (general admission is $49). “That’s a great ally—we need more people like that.”

READ MORE: 5 business resources for Black entrepreneurs in B.C.

The Black Business Summit will feature keynote speakers Mike (Pinball) Clemons and award-winning playwright and author Trey Anthony, as well as mentorship and networking opportunities. Most important, it will be an opportunity for young Black business owners to see a future for themselves. “If you can see it, you can be it,” Kasandy says. “When I was starting, there wasn’t anyone else who was doing what I was doing....It was a struggle to find someone who had succeeded. The biggest thing is being inspired, seeing the other people who have come before you and seeing that you can do it, too.” 

Here are all the details:
Black Business Summit 
Thursday, February 24 
9 a.m.–3 p.m. PST 
Register here