Our University of the Streets Café public conversations are much like any you’d have with friends or family around a dinner table, except with more people, more points of view, and slightly more structure. Conversations are hosted by a volunteer moderator who is there to welcome everyone and keep things on track. To get things started, there’s a guest, or sometimes two, who get the ball rolling by sharing their ideas, experiences and questions. After that, it's all up to the participants.
What does it look like when those who work in the realm of community economic development do not resemble the communities they seek to affect, and how does this presence stifle community-based entrepreneurs? The cooperative movement is linked to a historical need to find workarounds to systemic barriers facing certain ethnocultural communities. How do some of these same challenges continue to frustrate efforts to enact solutions grounded in community entrepreneurship? This public conversation considers the systemic barriers facing racialized communities, particularly Montreal’s Black communities, as their members seek to implement entrepreneurial ventures rooted in a lived understanding of community contexts. What is the role of access to credit, and how do hurdles in place today reflect a history of financial instruments as a tool of social domination? How can we seek to create space for community entrepreneurship by liberating funding and ensuring true - rather than token - representation within seats of power?
Thierry Lindor is a Montreal-based serial entrepreneur and business owner who, in 2019, was included in the Top 100 under 40 Most Influential People of African Descent. In 2014, Lindor became the youngest and first Black Remax Franchise owner in the history of Quebec. He is a founder at Influence ORBIS.
Dimitri Espérance holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and then began a Master’s degree in social innovation at HEC Montréal. During this, he decided to leave school in order to acquire concrete work experience in organisations that work towards social innovation. After beginning a career in project management, Dimitri then turned towards social entrepreneurship. Since then, he has concentrated his actions within his chosen neighborhood, Saint-Henri, where he works as an independent consultant.
This conversation is co-organized with Librairie Racines 2.0