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News Briefs

Rise Up Award Ceremony Celebrates Black Female Entrepreneurial Excellence

The Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) hosted the second annual Rise Up Pitch Competition and Award Ceremony Thursday, March 31, 2022. It featured pitches from 24 of Canada’s most promising Black women entrepreneurs.

Rise Up pitches fell into eight categories: Business Services, Consumer Goods and Services, Creative Arts and Culture, Hospitality and Food, Innovation/Best Pivot During COVID-19, Startup, Tech and Manufacturing and Youth Entrepreneur. The program also featured a roundtable in which eight professionals discussed the various challenges that Black women entrepreneurs face, and how to deal with them.

Eight winners won $10,000 each in prize money:

  • Business Services – Michelle Williams, Being Here, Human
  • Consumer Goods and Services – Kadaesha Lindsay, Untainted Bath & Body Care
  • Creative Arts and Culture – Chelsea Nyomi, Vagus Creatives
  • Hospitality and Food – Britney Charlton, Ohh! Foods
  • Innovation/Best Pivot During COVID-19 – Sheneice and Shanoira, Queer Queens Travel
  • Startup – Tamara Whilby, Women & Children Precious Shelter
  • Tech and Manufacturing – Micheline Khan, Althea Therapy
  • Youth Entrepreneur – Sabryna Parkin, Haus of Injexs Injectables

One of the night’s winners, Kadaesha Lindsay expressed her excitement: “Wow! I feel truly honored and grateful to receive this incredible award. It will help my business to excel in immense ways! I’d like to thank the BBPA and partners from the bottom of my heart. They recognized the challenges that Black female entrepreneurs face and shared this amazing opportunity with us by investing in the future of our businesses.”

In addition to the first-place winners, second and third place finishers received various non-financial prizes such as access to courses, coaching and mentorship.

Thoughts from leaders

“The Rise Up Competition is one of our most exciting programs,” says Nadine Spencer, CEO of the BBPA. “We are always impressed by the pitches presented by our participants and enjoy celebrating with our winners. This program reinforces just how incredibly deep the talent pool is in Canada’s business community. It is so important that our Black women entrepreneurs have the opportunity to demonstrate their excellence and receive access to vital business resources and networks.”

The BBPA and the Casa Foundation organized the 2022 pitch competition with support from the Lighthouse, Loblaws Companies Limited, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH). Our Rise Up partners facilitated workshops and judged the final pitch presentations.

“Despite the significant barriers to financing, including the increased cost of borrowing, many Black women are drawn to entrepreneurship,” says Wendy Cukier, Founder and Academic Advisor of the Diversity Institute and WEKH. “It addresses unmet needs in the market for products and services, celebrates their culture and gives back to their communities. Initiatives like the Rise Up Pitch Competition support and invest in Black women entrepreneurs. This mission is essential to Canada’s economic recovery and overall prosperity.”

“The Rise Up Pitch Competition is a solution-based platform for Black women-led businesses in these times and is open to all Black women from all sectors,” says Olutoyin Oyelade, Casa Foundation President. “This competition has disbursed about $200,000 in the last two years to support the recovery of women-led businesses. Casa Foundation is proud to partner with the BBPA and other industry giants to support this great initiative and looks forward to many more impactful years ahead for the Rise Up Pitch Competition.”

More information about the Rise Up Pitch Competition is available at https://riseuppitch.ca.

About the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA):

Founded in 1983, the BBPA is a charitable organization whose mission is to advance Canada’s Black community by facilitating the delivery of programs that support business and professional excellence, higher education and economic development. Along with the Rise Up Pitch Competition, the BBPA presents the Annual Harry Jerome Awards, the National Black Business Convention (NBBPC), the BBPA National Scholarships and workshops and programs at the BBPA Centre of Excellence. For more information, please visit www.bbpa.org or call 416-504-4097. You can also contact BBPA CEO Nadine Spencer directly at 416-315 -0697 or nadine@bbpa.org.

About the Casa Foundation for International Development (CFID):

Casa Foundation for International Development is a Canadian-registered nonprofit. Founded in 2011, its goal is to advance women, youths and emerging leaders, through economic, entrepreneurship and business development initiatives. The Foundation offers support to vertical sectors in the area of health, infrastructure and education. Casa Foundation executes its social impact programs and initiatives through the trifold approach of Partnership, Sponsorship and Mentorship. Through its partnership with EP Academy, Casa provides training, seminars and tutoring to college students looking to start entrepreneurship ventures. Casa offers startup seed funding to entrepreneurs through its partnership programs and its Pitch Masters Initiative.

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