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Concordia hosts the Quebec Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub

The initiative brings together researchers, businesspeople and community organizations
February 15, 2024
A group of students walk together through an interior atrium

Concordia has become a central research hub for Black entrepreneurship in the province. The Quebec Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (Q-BEKH) is connecting researchers, entrepreneurs and community organizations to strengthen the Black Canadian entrepreneurial landscape.

The initiative is hosted by Concordia’s Office of Community Engagement in partnership with the Université du Quebec à Montréal.

The Quebec Knowledge Hub is part of a federally funded national network of regional hubs (BEKH) based at Carleton University in Ottawa, with university partners across the country. Concordia is supporting this key aspect of the Black Entrepreneurship Program, a community engagement initiative funded by the Government of Canada’s Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada.

Filling the Gap

With the same structure as the Barry F. Lorenzetti Centre for Women Entrepreneurship and Leadership at Concordia, the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub will focus on how to strengthen Black entrepreneurship in Canada through research, knowledge sharing and community engagement.

“Studies have focused on entrepreneurship in Canada, on Blackness in Canada, but there is not much in terms of research initiatives or pre-existing data that focus specifically on the unique experience of Black entrepreneurs,” says Martha Nduwayo, BA 19, regional coordinator of the Quebec Hub.

Nduwayo notes that part of the problem is that research can be hard to access.

“When it comes to disenfranchised racial and linguistic groups, it is not easy to lead or access research. In order to have useful and accessible data on Black entrepreneurship, it’s important to bring all of these moving parts into conversation with each other.”

Nduwayo describes her role as that of a “conductor” who connects different players in the ecosystem and helps make sure the project stays on track.

“I would like to contribute in ensuring that our research is driven by the needs and experience of Black entrepreneurs and that the knowledge produced is useful and accessible, not only for these entrepreneurs but also to the community organizations that support them and to policy makers at all levels of government,” she says.

Smiling young woman with long, dark hair braided in a top knot, wearing glasses and a white shirt Martha Nduwayo: “The more layers of marginalization, the trickier it is to get to the specific topic of mental health.”

Highlighting Black wellness

With a background in both psychology and business, Nduwayo expresses a passion about mental health, especially Black mental health — something she says she feels is not given enough attention in the entrepreneurial space.

For this reason, Nduwayo adds she is especially excited about the research project led by applied human sciences faculty members Lisa Ndejuru, affiliate assistant professor, and Marie-Jolie (MJ) Rwigema, assistant professor. Rwigema is also serving as the academic co-lead of the Quebec Hub along with Olivier Germain, professor of management at UQAM.

The project is titled Validating, adapting, and sharing Black Collective Care Circles – the entrepreneur edition: an afro positive participatory action-based approach to understanding, supporting, and responding to the mental health needs of young black entrepreneurs and their business coaches in Quebec.

Ndejuru and Rwigema’s project builds on a structure developed within the Black Healing Centre. The initiative takes inspiration from the centre’s Collective Care Circles and offers this same support to Black entrepreneurs.

For Nduwayo, it is imperative to support research projects that focus on Black wellness at the intersection of mental health and entrepreneurship.

“There are still cultural barriers to mental health in the Black community,” she says. “And when you add the frequent lows experienced as a result of systemic racism, the difficulty of finding culturally appropriate services, combined with the extremely busy life of an entrepreneur, you can see how this subject often falls lower on the priority list.’’

Breaking down barriers together

Kassandra Kernisan, executive director of DESTA Black Community Network in Montreal, explains that the organization is proud to contribute to Q-BEKH’s vital mission of helping to break down barriers for Black entrepreneurs in Quebec.

“Through our active involvement with the hub, we are committed to working together to ensure that the insights gained from the research benefit the Black entrepreneurship ecosystem in Quebec and beyond,” Kernisan notes.

Be heard, spread the word

Carleton University, the BEKH Central Hub, recently launched a national quantitative survey as part of a broader study to document experiences of Black entrepreneurs and identify critical gaps that may be unique to their realities. 

“This study is the first of its kind. It could inform so many government policies in the future, so it’s especially important that different realities of Black entrepreneurship be represented,” Nduwayo says.

To this end, Nduwayo invites all Black entrepreneurs to participate in the study. She underscores the importance of participation within Quebec, as many individuals will be able to speak to the unique experience of the country’s French-speaking minority.

The Black entrepreneurship community includes new immigrants from countries around the world as well as those whose families go back many generations in Canada, and they live and work in both urban centres and remote regions. These diverse realities shape the type of entrepreneur each individual becomes and the type of support they might need.

When it comes to policy, Nduwayo stresses that studying these differences provides valuable information.

“It is important that all these various experiences be taken into account.”

The National Quantitative Study on Black Entrepreneurship in Canada is now live on the
BEKH website. Quebec-based Black entrepreneurs can access the following Quebec-specific form.

Learn more about Concordia’s Office of Community Engagement.




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