From a few small offices inside Carleton’s new Nicol Building, ground-breaking work is underway to identify barriers and supports for Black entrepreneurs in Canada.

Since the launch of the Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (BEKH) in December 2021, Gerald Grant, professor in the Sprott School of Business and co-director of the hub, has been busy building infrastructure to assist the forthcoming research and programming.

“We’re focusing on getting things up and running and putting in place the governance structure and strategies to manage the program going forward,” says Grant.

Professor Gerald Grant speaks while holding a microphone.

Professor Gerald Grant. Photo: Justin Tang

Grant has been busy hiring staff for the BEKH and setting up workspaces at the Innovation Hub inside the Nicol Building. Initially, Grant is looking to secure an executive director and knowledge broker to jumpstart the work, but eventually hopes to have two full-time and two part-time admin positions.

“We’re looking for specific skills and want to be careful to get the right staffing complement to make sure we can be successful,” says Grant.

Outside of personnel, other priorities for Grant and his team include developing the agreements with BEKH’s principal partner, Dream Legacy Foundation and with other regional hubs and academic cohorts. He’s also planning a series of regional focus groups to generate research themes and data for a planned mapping project, a collaboration with the Geomatics and Cartographic Research Centre, that will outline the ecosystem of Black entrepreneurs across the country.

“Along the way, we are beginning discussions with other public sector and private sector entities, which are willing to partner with the BEKH to advance our program,” Grant says. “This will strengthen the capacity of the BEKH and provide access to additional support and resources.”

As word of the BEKH is beginning to spread through academic networks and mainstream media, Grant is fielding calls and emails from those interested in participating in, and contributing to, the work of the BEKH.

“People have been reaching out from the public and non-profit sectors and government departments,” he says. “There’s a general understanding that there’s a lack of data in the area of Black entrepreneurship, so we’re hearing from those willing to share their data and tell their stories.

There’s a definite perception of the Hub as a collaborative space, where working together will benefit many.”

Within the next year, Grant says he expects the Hub to be fully functional, with community partners actively engaged in co-creating and developing research that reflects the needs of Black entrepreneurs. Within five years, Grant hopes the BEKH will help guide policy making at all levels of government and across the public and private sectors.

“Everybody’s looking for research they can trust. We want the BEKH to be that trusted source of information on Black entrepreneurship in Canada.”

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Wednesday, February 23, 2022 in ,
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