Boosting opportunities for Black entrepreneurs ‒ Central to Canada’s recovery

Toronto, October 21, 2021 ‒ A training program providing skills, networking and mentorship for over 400 Black entrepreneurs across Canada was launched today by the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA) in conjunction with Future Skills Centre (FSC), and the Diversity Institute (DI).

The first-of-its-kind Black African and Caribbean Entrepreneurship Leadership (BACEL) program combines the BBPA’s successful existing instructional courses with important business and life skills coaching over a 20-month program, with FSC investing $1.5 million in this innovative curriculum.

When the first cohort is completed, BACEL will undergo rigorous evaluation to demonstrate the economic benefits of delivering culturally appropriate, trauma-informed entrepreneurial skills training to business owners from Black communities.

Innovative and non-traditional business courses will meet the unique needs of Black entrepreneurs with solutions focused strategies that address systemic barriers. BACEL asserts that supporting and empowering Black entrepreneurs is a viable economic pathway that will increase economic stability in the Black community. BACEL recognizes the vast diversity existing in the Black Canadian community and will support the following intersectional marginalities:

  • Women and gender diverse people
  • Low-income Black Canadians
  • Official Language Minority Black Communities (OLMCs)
  • Black people with disabilities
  • Black people identifying as LGBTQ2S+

“Black entrepreneurs, especially Black youth, need BACEL to gain valuable business and life-skills,” said Nadine Spencer, BBPA President. “The pandemic disproportionately impacted Black Canadians economically. Minority and newcomer populations have always faced structural barriers to starting a small business, pursuing self-employment or finding work the pandemic has only compounded this reality.”

“BACEL addresses the very real needs and systemic barriers faced by individuals in the Black community,” said Pedro Barata, Future Skills Centre Executive Director. “Growing the pipeline of entrepreneurs will support the skills development, training and learning that will be needed to ensure that people are not shut out of the economic recovery and can contribute to our shared prosperity in the future.”

“Our research continues to highlight the challenges of anti-Black racism and barriers in the system,” said Wendy Cukier, Diversity Institute Academic Director and a Research Lead with the Future Skills Centre. “Black women entrepreneurs are doubly disadvantaged – because they also face barriers as women. This innovative, culturally appropriate and trauma-informed skills development program will not only break down barriers to advancement for hundreds of Black and other racialized business owners but will also create hundreds more jobs and strengthen communities.”

The BACEL Training Program is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre.


Who is eligible to participate in the BACEL Training program?
This training program is open to all Black entrepreneurs of all backgrounds, demographics, genders and capabilities.

Is there an age requirement?
BACEL is open to Black entrepreneurs 16 years of age or older.

Are there any business requirements?
There are no business requirements except the desire to gain additional knowledge and training.

How will the program be structured?
Every participant must complete BACEL’s core course component before entering a specialized stream (for example: arts, tech, service industry).

Is the BACEL program open to other marginalized groups?
This program is intended for entrepreneurs who identify as Black, African, African Canadian or Afro-Caribbean.

Is it only coursework or will there be opportunities for application of skills?
BACEL will include coursework, mentoring, advising and supports. Over the course of the 20 months there may be opportunities for participants to use their skills through internship or volunteering.

How will those who are differently abled be supported?
To start, BACEL will be offered as an online training course so the need for differently abled supports will be minimal. If we move to a combined online/classroom delivery model, we will take all necessary steps to ensure differently abled supports are in place.

Will participants receive any certifications as part of the program?
A graduation certificate will be provided to all participants who complete the program.

What is the cost to participate in BACEL?
There are no costs to participate in BACEL’s training programs.

Why did FSC choose to fund the BACEL?
FSC is investing in various projects and sector-based initiatives that engage industry associations, employers and others to analyze future labour market needs and design comprehensive skills development approaches to address those needs.

About Future Skills Centre (FSC)
TheFuture Skills Centre (FSC) is a forward-thinking centre for research and collaboration dedicated to preparing Canadians for employment success. FSC believes Canadians should feel confident about the skills they have to succeed in a changing workforce. As a pan-Canadian community, they collaborate to rigorously identify, test, measure, and share innovative approaches to assessing and developing the skills Canadians need to thrive in the days and years ahead. The Future Skills Centre was founded by a consortium whose members are Ryerson University, Blueprint, and The Conference Board of Canada, and is funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Program.

About the Diversity Institute
The Diversity Institute conducts and coordinates multi-disciplinary, multi-stakeholder research to address the needs of diverse Canadians, the changing nature of skills and competencies, and the policies, processes and tools that advance economic inclusion and success. Their action-oriented, evidence-based approach is advancing knowledge of the complex barriers faced by underrepresented groups, leading practices to effect change, and producing concrete results.

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 workshops and programs at the BBPA Centre of Excellence, the BBPA presents the annual Harry Jerome Awards, the BBPA National Scholarships, and the National Black Business Convention (NBBPC). For more information, please visit the BBPA online at, call 416-504-4097, or email

Media Contact Information:
Richard Rotman
Director Public Relations & Communications
Brand EQ Group