Young People Stepping into the Entrepreneurial Spotlight

Young People Stepping into the Entrepreneurial Spotlight

Supporting a successful and vibrant African Nova Scotian business community

Black Business Initiative October 9, 2018 – Cherry Brook, NS –

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency Making sure every Canadian has an equal and fair chance at success is not just the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. Canada’s future prosperity depends on it. That is why the Government of Canada supports organizations like the Black Business Initiative (BBI), which has been working to bring a dynamic and vibrant Black presence to the Nova Scotia business community for more than 20 years.

BBI’s commitment to youth, community and entrepreneurship has helped engage more than 8,000 Canadian youth, support 84 community initiatives, and distribute in excess of $9 million in loans and equity.

David Lametti, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), today met with members of the Black business community to learn more about BBI’s mix of programs that help African Nova Scotian-owned businesses thrive.

The Government of Canada, through ACOA, provides BBI with operational support that enables the organization to offer programs such as Business is Jammin’. This youth initiative is an excellent model to introduce young Canadians to the possibilities of entrepreneurship through experiential learning. This innovative program has produced mentors in addition to attracting corporate and academic partners who work on new programming to teach coding, architecture, science and other business and life skills that are necessary to stay competitive in today’s fast-paced global economy. Later this month, Business is Jammin’ will launch the TD Spark Mentorship Program where young Canadians between the ages of 18 and 30 will gain leadership skills and industry knowledge from professional mentors in the community.

BBI programs support the objectives of the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan to build a better Canada where everyone has the jobs, skills and learning they need to solve global challenges. This will strengthen communities while ensuring that everyone living in the region has the opportunity to participate fully in an inclusive innovation economy. 2


“Our government understands that the jobs of the future depend on Canadians’ ability to continue to adapt, innovate, and maintain our competitive edge in today’s fast-paced global economy. The Black Business Initiative provides a collaborative and supportive environment that changes lives by supporting economic independence. We look forward to continuing to work with BBI and the Black business community, and to further celebrating the community’s influence on the Atlantic economy.”

     - David Lametti, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for ACOA


“All Canadians deserve equal opportunities to participate fully in an inclusive economy and thrive, no matter their origin, culture, religion, language spoken or skin colour. The Government of Canada supports these goals and the pioneering work of the Black Business Initiative.”

     - Darrell Samson, Member of Parliament for Sackville-Preston-East Chezzetcook


“The impact that the Black Business Initiative team is having on the economy in the province of Nova Scotia is recognized and validated by the quality of business owners we support and working as a catalyst for supplier diversity with our corporate sector partners.”

     - Rustum Southwell, Chief Executive Officer, Black Business Initiative


"I am grateful for the tenacity of my ancestors to overcome historical hardships. It has always been my intention to build upon that legacy and maximize the potential of my community. The Black Business Initiative, during the past two decades, has produced exceptional mentors who have helped me shape my dreams into reality."

     - Tyson Tolliver, Founder, African Nova Scotian Directory


Quick Facts

 The Government of Canada, through ACOA, has supported BBI’s operations and strategic initiatives with funding totaling $14.7 million over more than twenty years as part of a commitment to ensure all Canadians have an equal and fair chance at success in the labour market.

 With BBI’s guidance, East Preston native Tyson Tolliver enrolled in the Volta Academy, which helped him launch the African Nova Scotian Directory, a website and app that connects the world to the African Nova Scotian community online.

 BBI’s CEO Dr. Rustum Southwell received honorary degrees from Dalhousie University and Saint Mary’s University this year in recognition of his commitment to entrepreneurship and leadership in Nova Scotia.



Alex Smith
Director of Communications and Outreach Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
902-426-9417 | 902-830-3939 (cell)


Laurissa Manning
Director, Stakeholder & Community Relations Black Business Initiative

Acheivement Development Features Entrepreneur

Additonal Toursim Resources
African Nova Scotian Directory - Google Local Guide
African Nova Scotian Tourism Guide
Africville Story Map
Destination Liberty: Your guide to Black Historic Travel Destinations in Nova Scotia
Historical Black Settlements in Nova Scotia (Google Map)
Jamaican Maroons in Halifax: A Black Canadian History Guide
Nova Scotia Toursim: Discover African Nova Scotia

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