E06: Rewriting the Canadian Dream through entrepreneurship

Tune into our new podcast, Startup + Prosper! Our podcast is dedicated to the key elements of the entrepreneurial mindset, with a particular focus on the current state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada. Each of the episodes aims to inspire and educate listeners about Black-owned businesses and their reality while providing more insight into Futurpreneur’s goals to grow, learn and help address the disparities faced by the BIPOC entrepreneurial community. Read their stories, listen and subscribe to our podcast, Startup + Prosper:

E06: Rewriting the Canadian Dream through entrepreneurship


As Canadians, we pride ourselves on the multicultural nature of our country – a unique reality also reflected in the diversity of Canadian entrepreneurship.

Ivan Touko, founder of La Connexional, embodies the so-called “Canadian dream” through his inspiring journey. The entrepreneur, community developer, and artist was named among Alberta’s 30 under 30. Merging entrepreneurship and art in his projects, Touko explains: “I am passionate about social innovation and technology and how the intersection of social innovation, technology and culture can benefit communities that are usually underserved.”

At the age of 16, Touko moved to Edmonton from Cameroon. On his way to success, Touko had to overcome many barriers. “When I emigrated, I experienced a great sense of isolation from my culture and communities. It was difficult to find Cameroonians my age or people who looked like me to develop a support system,” he remembers.

Building Community Through Culture

In school, Touko met classmates who introduced him to dance and percussion. “Through dance and drumming, I had also found a group to belong to. That’s really what helped me, at that time, to navigate the whole thing,” he recalls. Following this decisive encounter, Touko became increasingly involved in the cultural scene, eventually becoming a professional dancer. He says that it was this passion that allowed him to get to where he is today: “Through dance, I learned discipline and consistency. The person who managed the group was an entrepreneur.” From observing his teacher, Touko was exposed to the concept of art as a professional path and learnt how to manage operations, from logistics to performances.

While establishing himself as an artpreneur, Touko studied environmental science and conservation in university. “On the one hand, it has nothing to do with what I am doing today. On the other hand, my major being in sustainable development, I decided to focus on the social aspect and the importance of creating vibrant communities that contribute to social well-being” .

It was also at university that the artist met the person with whom he would later co-found La Connexional, a socially-driven enterprise that promotes the talents of Afrodescendent and Latino people in Edmonton, where he still resides. Relying on community-oriented workshops and events, the co-founders “create physical and virtual spaces for these communities to grow, learn collectively and create new resources. (…) It impacts adjacent communities because when you create a resource for a particular community, it’s not just that community that benefits from it.”

The idea grew out of his student days, when Yvan Touko had the opportunity to get involved in the African Students Association, which led him to plan events and build a network. Like many of his peers, Touko and his friends wanted to party. However, they noticed a lack of Afrobeat, Latin and Caribbean music. “We needed something different, something reminiscent of my nights in Cameroon before I immigrated to Canada”. To remedy this, he launched a first music event to which as many as 500 people showed up. “There were about 10-15% of these people from the Latin, African or Caribbean communities,” he says.

Aside from event planning, the entrepreneur finds a passion in community development. “I was lucky enough to find a group,” Touko notes. “Many others may not have been so fortunate, so it was important for me to create spaces that offered that”—a need even more acute outside of Toronto or Montreal.

Leveraging the Tools

The Connexional remains an organization small in numbers but not in impact. The company leverages the tech tools made available to carry out its mission and projects. “Today, we are seeing a big boom in SAAS (software as a service), which develops tools to allow small organizations, like La Connexional, to get started without teak or coding expertise,” he points out. The initiative’s website reflects this approach, as does their use of free or low-cost tools: Canva for visuals; Hootsuite, Linktree, or Taplik for social network management; as well as Deskera for accounting, billing, and marketing. “Shopify, which is one of the most effective platforms for companies with products for sale, offers a free 3 to 6 months for Black entrepreneurs,” he also notes.

For those interested in starting an initiative of their own, Touko recommends not only getting  mentoring and access to resources as early as possible, but also developing a business plan. “With La Connexional, we organized so many different events that helped us see which areas were the best fit for us. But having a strategic plan would have surely helped me to come up with more sustainable initiatives impacting the business and its growth,” he points out.

To hear the full story of Ivan Touko, listen to the podcast episode on The Canadian Dream—A Story of Immigration and Entrepreneurship, available on Spotify and Youtube.

E05 Demystifying business loans: Why would I need them?

Tune into our new podcast, Startup + Prosper! Our podcast is dedicated to the key elements of the entrepreneurial mindset, with a particular focus on the current state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada. Each of the episodes aims to inspire and educate listeners about Black-owned businesses and their reality while providing more insight into Futurpreneur’s goals to grow, learn and help address the disparities faced by the BIPOC entrepreneurial community. Read their stories, listen and subscribe to our podcast, Startup + Prosper:

E05 – Demystifying business loans: Why would I need them?


What’s in a business loan, really? Kettie Belance, account manager at RBC― also an entrepreneur, professional singer, mother and all-around passionate person― gets to the nitty-gritty. Her role, she explains, is to provide guidance, backed by over 20 years of experience working at RBC and her own entrepreneurial journey.

“We need to make sure that our dreams come true”, said the account manager, after quoting Harriet Tubman, who famously said, “every great dream begins with a dreamer” . “Then, we must make it happen, and a great way to begin is to get help, and information on how to go about it.”

Lending a hand

A loan can open so many impactful possibilities for Black entrepreneurs. However, stigma lingers around borrowing money, credit, and the lack of financial literacy. “Knowledge is power” , declared Belance, who is committed to changing the mentality. “With that, you can make better choices, see for yourself, your family, and everybody around then you become an ambassador », she said.

And you don’t have to go through it alone. The account manager recommends getting the bank involved in the process as early as possible. « The earliest you get your banker involved, the earliest we can help you plan », she explains. Your financial partner can explain what is needed to get approval for a loan and how to go about it.

That’s not the only thing they can do for you. The advice comes in many forms. « Maybe I could advise you with an accountant, with somebody who does specialize in financial planning or investing, there are there are so many partners that can be part that could like surround your project the most of the people are not aware », she details.

Go and get it 

Do you need money to make money?  What you actually need is financing, explains Belance. « The business owner needs to have money that they s going to inject into the business », she explains, comparing it to a baby. That is where the loan comes in handy. « if someone else is going to give you additional capital you have to also show them how much you’re willing to put into your baby, your business, your dream. »

A loan is money you borrow from a financial institution. Your counsellor can advise you on the type and the terms if can take, and what is best for your situation. And there are so many options available. « That’s why I always refer back entrepreneurs to their bank because that’s where you get all the information for the multiple products that you can have access to », recommends Belance.

To apply for financing, there is a process. And it can take longer than expected, so to not let discouragement settle. « You have to be patient, and you have to make sure that the person that’s doing the loan for you, keeps you aware of what’s going on where we’re at », she says.

As you might expect, one important element to consider is your credit history. But that isn’t the full story. « It’s very important because you decide to do financing in the financial institution and they don’t know you, the only thing that they have is your credit bureau. », she explains.

But this alone should never stop you from applying. « it’s not because you have a credit bureau that is less credible that it means that it amplifies that you’re going to be rejected », Belance underlines. « It can be explained if we can do some research we can make it look better ». Things such as your experience as a business owner will also be considered — a key element that is not known to everyone.

In all cases, the thing to do is to make the step and get the information. if you do face rejection, it does not stop there. An account manager can give you advice about how to remedy.« So, therefore, the next time you apply, we’re gonna get it », encourages Belance. The most important thing is to ask why, then not settled in discouragement, and try again. And for entrepreneurs, rejection is part of the process. And there are options. «you’re an entrepreneur, you’re gonna go through stuff, you know, I feel like just build character. But it’s easier said than done.

RBC also recently launched a new financing solution called the RBC Black intrapreneur business loans. « RBC is committed to enabling growth and wealth creation for black entrepreneurs», states Belance. « The way that we want to do that is by giving access to capital, access to experts and access to engagement in the community. », The program has no age limit and offers up to $250,000 with advantageous rates.

To know more about how RBC empowers Black Entrepreneurs, you can visit the website , and listen to the podcast episode Demystifying business loans: Why would I need them? on Spotify and Youtube.

E04: On Belonging and Taking Space with Alfred Burgesson

Tune into our new podcast, Startup + Prosper! Our podcast is dedicated to the key elements of the entrepreneurial mindset, with a particular focus on the current state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada. Each of the episodes aims to inspire and educate listeners about Black-owned businesses and their reality while providing more insight into Futurpreneur’s goals to grow, learn and help address the disparities faced by the BIPOC entrepreneurial community. Read their stories, listen and subscribe to our podcast, Startup + Prosper:

E04: On Belonging and Taking Space with Alfred Burgesson


Alfred Burgesson hasn’t always felt as though he belonged. When he was six years old, he left Ghana with his family to settle in Canada: “I moved to a town called Port Hawkesbury in Nova Scotia, with a population of 4,000 people. And it’s not very diverse,” he recalls.

By then, the experience was already prompting some essential questions. “I feel like from a young age, I was always looking for—I was always looking for a sense of community and like, who are my people here, who can I relate to?”

Finding your Kind

Decades later, not only did Alfred take up the space that he was due—he made sure to bring along everybody who looked like him and their talents. In 2020, he founded Tribe Network, connecting Black, Indigenous and People of Colour pursuing entrepreneurship and innovation with opportunities and each other. “Tribe Network came from my personal experience and from listening to the experience of other entrepreneurs. The organization is set out to be the BIPOC entrepreneurship hub in Canada,” he tells us.

Burgesson got an early start in entrepreneurship through an after-school program called Junior Achievement, where students come together with their peers to build a company. “I had a core group of people I was working with, and together, we were able to take up space,” explains the founder. “Entrepreneurship is about finding like-minded people who care about the problem you’re trying to solve. And together, you can take up space and create community,”, which is the mindset he carries with him still to this day.

Now, Tribe Network offers a space where entrepreneurs can support each other, which, in the eyes of the founder, is crucial. “You know, if I’m dealing with an issue, when I talk to an entrepreneur who’s already dealt with that, they’re able to give me direct feedback on how I can solve that issue, from their lived experience. So I think it’s really important that entrepreneurs surround themselves in a community where they belong.”

The idea for the network sprouted in the summer of 2020 through discussions between Alfred and his sister, who is an entrepreneur herself. The aim was to help build capacity for entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs and centralize that information. “The core of our conversation was—how can we give Black entrepreneurs a platform where they can sell their products and services to the world? How can we create a community where they can connect and learn from each other? How do we create a sense of belonging and community during COVID and lockdowns?”

Coaching, advising and mentoring are great ways to be supported, which you can access through Tribe. “I would encourage you to identify people who can support your entrepreneurial journey. But the crucial thing is that they believe in the problem you’re trying to solve, and that they believe in you.”

The Power of Data

Before launching his latest venture, Alfred Burgesson, an alumni of the Prime Minister’s Youth Council, was the co-chair of Canada’s first State of youth report.

He was also project lead at the African Canadian Senate group and the office of Senator Colin Deacon, a project aiming to dive deeper into the gaps for Black entrepreneurs in Canada. There, he was given the opportunity to study the problem he was initially exploring, gathering insight about the current state of Black entrepreneurship.

“The data that we collected definitely shed light on the state of Black entrepreneurs,” says the founder.

Information and numbers pertaining to BIPOC communities have historically been absent and underreported. “Fortunately or unfortunately, I think we are operating in a society and a system that often requires data to inform decisions,” says Burgesson. And when there’s data, there’s proof. Surveying has also allowed Black entrepreneurs to share their experiences and voice their concerns to governments.

“Through my work with the Senate, I realized that there were gaps in the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem. And the gaps had to do with entrepreneurs not being BIPOC, and not being connected with each other across the country,” says Burgesson. Furthermore, the entrepreneur states that his fellow BIPOC colleagues were not being connected to accelerators or incubators, which he is set on changing.

Turns out that these programs also need to be more representative of the population. “If they want more Black entrepreneurs, they need to have Black staff, coaches, mentors, plus language and resources that are tailored towards Black entrepreneurs,” Burgesson indicates.

Taking Up Space

Despite being an active entrepreneur for most of his life, Alfred Burgesson has felt at times that he was going through it alone. “Sometimes it’s challenging for entrepreneurs to walk into white spaces and thrive in them,” he says.

And it takes guts to get started and to keep at it. “It’s not an easy thing, and you need to have a lot of courage to succeed in entrepreneurship. So I think a part of that mindset is being able to walk in spaces where you’ll be the only one,” he says, speaking from experience.

And the burden shouldn’t only be ours to carry. “If an organization is going to make a commitment to being more diverse, I think it’s important that the team take a step back to recognize either the knowledge or lack of knowledge they have. It’s important to build capacity in the existing team to be able to support this new person or new people who are coming into your workplace,” pleads Burgersson. And we are talking about ongoing efforts, not a simple warm welcome. “You need to acknowledge and create the journey that will allow the entire staff to get better educated on how to support the community, not just the person coming in.”

For more perspective on breaking the glass ceiling, you can listen to the podcast episode “Taking Up Space: You belong!” with Alfred Burgersson.

This article was written by Christelle Saint-Julien

E03: Think Bigger —Escaping a Micro-Entrepreneurship Mindset With Frénie Jean-Baptiste

Tune into our new podcast, Startup + Prosper! Our podcast is dedicated to the key elements of the entrepreneurial mindset, with a particular focus on the current state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada. Each of the episodes aims to inspire and educate listeners about Black-owned businesses and their reality while providing more insight into Futurpreneur’s goals to grow, learn and help address the disparities faced by the BIPOC entrepreneurial community. Read their stories, listen and subscribe to our podcast, Startup + Prosper:

E03: Think Bigger —Escaping a Micro-Entrepreneurship Mindset With Frénie Jean-Baptiste

If it doesn’t serve you, let it go. What happens when we apply that to our mindsets?

Micro-entrepreneurship refers to small companies running on minimal investment, operated by a handful of employees. If that is what Frénie Jean-Baptiste, founder of Bayard Gâteaux and Bayard Royal, first set out to do, she always saw the bigger picture. In 2015, she launched an online business specializing in baking and delivering buttercream cakes. Since then, thousands of happy tasters have enjoyed these sweet treats at home and at events, such as weddings, parties and other celebrations. In 2020, Jean-Baptiste launched Bayard Royal, a line of rum cake products that are now sold online and at various points of sale across the province.

While it may be a small business, it is a mighty operation with an impressive reach. Frénie Jean-Baptiste never considered the scale of her operations, and we could all benefit from eschewing the micro-entrepreneurship mentality, which is very present among Black entrepreneurs.

Recent studies examine the realities of Black entrepreneurship in Canada. A report by Pitch Better Canada determined that 45% of Black women entrepreneurs consider their business’ lifecycle in a growth phase. Rise Up, a research project commissioned by the Black Business Professional Association (BBPA) conducted among 700 Black women entrepreneurs, concluded that the majority of the businesses surveyed operated from home were online, and had no employees. Moreover, the Inclusive Entrepreneurship: Exploring the Barriers Facing Black Entrepreneurs in Canada project, led by the African Canadian Senate group, highlighted the lack of access to capital and resources — 44% of businesses accounted for are not able to pay themselves. And while this is the case, 87% of Black entrepreneurs surveyed report that they are somewhat optimistic about the future of their businesses.

If Jean-Baptiste had an early interest in e-commerce, it was women entrepreneurs on YouTube who inspired her to launch her first venture. As a university student, she put out a party decoration website. In her own words, it was a bust. “It didn’t work out because it required a huge investment that I didn’t have,” she recognizes as she reflects back on the experience.

Her second idea came from the heart. Jean-Baptiste grew up very close to her grandmother—at only 4 years old, Frénie was already keen on helping her in the kitchen. Nearly two decades later, when she was attending university in Montreal, her grandma, who lived abroad, was diagnosed with cancer. Frénie decided to halt everything and spend time with her. “It was just like before, we started to cook again even though she was quite weak,” recalls the entrepreneur. Then, it just clicked. She loved to cook, bake and already had a lot of equipment, so why not launch a food business?

Quickly, Jean-Baptiste put together a logo. Bayard is her grandmother’s name, and the cake recipe is straight from her kitchen. “I showed it to my grandmother and she was very moved,” says Jean-Baptiste. Sadly, two weeks later, Mrs. Bayard passed on, leaving her legacy with her granddaughter.

Frénie Jean-Baptiste launched her business two months later. She sought to make herself stand out by having an online business. “There are many pastry chefs in Montreal and in the community. Why not make pre-decorated cakes that are sold online? All people have to do is to order the cake. It takes two clicks , and we take care of delivery.”

At the time, the business owner hadn’t yet imagined commercializing her product everywhere in Québec. “All I wanted was to have a business. Already, it was a challenge for me. I didn’t want to venture into entrepreneurship, it’s something I did because I saw other people do it,” she says.

In 2020, she launched another brainchild, Bayard Royal. This new project bakes and sells rum cakes through a different channel, strategy and website. The product is sold everywhere in the province, and can be found at select IGA stores. “We are targeting a much larger audience,” explains the founder, adding that the past few months have been heavy on production. “People often believe that there’s a big team behind it, but we are still operating with three people,” says Jean-Baptiste, who runs Bayard with her mother and her husband.
Keeping it modest never stopped her from thinking bigger, adjusting her strategy to her means and ambitions. “This is one of the reasons I worked hard on the strategy in order to simplify the production and manufacturing process,” she explains.

Would things be different if she launched today, rather than when she did in 2015? Absolutely. The businesswoman recognizes that there is more visibility and resources now available to Black-owned businesses. At the time, she had to do a lot of explaining for people to understand the project.

When starting out, she didn’t have a mentor. She turned to podcasts, YouTube videos, Instagram posts and books from entrepreneurs that offered guidance. “What I realized was that the people who were successful, especially in the food business, were the ones who had left the micro-entrepreneurial stage to expand into a bigger business,” she says. “It was often people who focused on one or two products, managed to save a lot on scaling and pushed out that product. I decided to have a similar strategy.” There goes one of the many pieces of advice she offers. “Instead of doing many things, having different products, pick one or two that you can master and commercialize.” For more insights, you can listen to the podcast episode Escaping a Micro-Entrepreneurship Mindset With Frénie Jean-Baptiste here.

This article was written by Christelle Saint-Julien

E02: Going your own way… and bringing the community along

Tune into our new podcast, Startup + Prosper! Our podcast is dedicated to the key elements of the entrepreneurial mindset, with a particular focus on the current state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada. Each of the episodes aims to inspire and educate listeners about Black-owned businesses and their reality while providing more insight into Futurpreneur’s goals to grow, learn and help address the disparities faced by the BIPOC entrepreneurial community. Read their stories, listen and subscribe to our podcast, Startup + Prosper:

E02: Going your own way… and bringing the community along


Setiz Taheri might be considered a serial entrepreneur. But all of his ventures have one thing in common: centering community.

“I’m just a regular guy from the neighbourhood who figured out a way to be creative and kinda enjoy redefining what community work looks like”, says Taheri.

As humble as he is, that means forging his own path, while also encouraging people to get involved. That is how La Rue Inspire, a collective of creative, engages the community, and always in an innovative manner. “Our main focus is community building and raising awareness on social issues. We feel the impact of our communities specifically, whether it’s through artistic projects, short films, events, or community initiatives”, explains the entrepreneur.

This is maybe what Setiz Taheri does best: partnering and collaborating with people. “A real strength is to know other people’s strengths. I’ve got a lot of go theod people around me that do a lot of things better than me. So working with people is just the best way that you can put your best foot forward”, he asserts.

Tehari first sought out entrepreneurship to see what his skills were, or could be. “I went all the way to university, and it just wasn’t for me”. He found that the same thing was true oftraditional work environments. “I knew I could do better for myself”, he recalls. “You just have to create situations in which you can see that the possibilities are real”.

Which he did, starting with his abilities and interests at the time; at the beginning, that was by selling t-shirts out of his trunk. “I tried a lot of things. I failed a lot. And that felt like it was the real thing for me, and that it fit my personality”, he explains.

Now older, with a teenager of his own, he is committed to being not only a role model, but an active listener and champion of youth. “I think a lot of times, when it comes to our youth, we don’t let them be them. We kind of want to box them in and put them on a path that we feel is right. But that’s what the system does. We shouldn’t do that on top of what they’re going through already”, he states.

Rather, he says, we should encourage them to not only be themselves – but also the best version of themselves. That includes support when rules are broken “That’s real love – making sure you’re there for your people, for your community, for your family, no matter what goes on. And that’s kind of the foundation of everything that I do”, he says, drawing from his own experience. It is also what allows one to keep pushing and believe in oneself. “Even if you don’t fit the conventional mold, find your own way and build your own path”, asserts the entrepreneur.

In that regard, this also means being open to learning and receiving feedback, which doesn’t need to happen in a classroom. “The most important thing is to educate yourself, the number one thing in entrepreneurship”, he emphasizes, pointing to himself as an example. “I was around a lot of people who did a lot of good things. So I just took a little bit from everybody, to shape the entrepreneur and the human I wanted to become”.

For more tips on how to pave your way and create change, listen to the podcast episode « Entrepreneurship: An Alternate Career Path », on Spotify and Youtube.

E01: The Unexpected Momentum Generated by the Black Lives Matter Movement

Tune into our new podcast, Startup + Prosper! Our podcast is dedicated to the key elements of the entrepreneurial mindset, with a particular focus on the current state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada. Each of the episodes aims to inspire and educate listeners about Black-owned businesses and their reality while providing more insight into Futurpreneur’s goals to grow, learn and help address the disparities faced by the BIPOC entrepreneurial community. Read their stories, listen and subscribe to our podcast, Startup + Prosper:

E01: The Unexpected Momentum Generated by the Black Lives Matter Movement

In 2020, the tragic death of George Floyd led to the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement. What followed was a major societal awakening to the issues facing
Black communities, which in turn propelled many Black-owned businesses toward their rightful place.

Two years later, social impact designer Danièle-Jocelyne Otou is still feeling the effects. She is the co-founder of New Room, an organization that offers program and resource development services pertaining to diversity, equity and inclusion, a venture which was launched in 2021.

Transformation Through the Movement

“My impression has definitely changed. At first, I was divided,” recalls Danièle-Jocelyne Otou, thinking back to how the movement put Black people and communities in the spotlight. For many, the complexity of the situation generated a sense of ambivalence. “On the one hand, I was happy that people in general were confronted with certain things, and on the other, I was puzzled: it took the public death of a Black man for certain institutions to wake up,” explains the entrepreneur.

Progress is being made on the social and political fronts, and many have taken action. Programs such as the BlackNorth Initiative, Futurepreneur’s Black Entrepreneur Startup Program, and the federal government’s funding for Black entrepreneurs and organizations that work with Black communities are all initiatives born from the movement. “There is still work to be done, of course, but I think recognizing the progress that has been made is just as important as looking critically at the work that still needs to be done,” says Otou.

While Otou is not new to entrepreneurship, things have come a long way since 2020. “The difference I feel is the support of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and the resources that are available to us,” says the entrepreneur, who, eight years ago, was living a very different life when she started her first business. “I think it’s partly because in the last two years, a lot of these ecosystems realized how opportunities are not equal.”

What’s Next

The passage of time also allows us to see how far we’ve come in the wake of a movement. “Two years later, I consider that, depending on the initiatives, we have succeeded, as a community, in being able to gauge the level of sincerity of certain initiatives, posts or reflections,” says the entrepreneur. Things like performative statements are still hard to navigate–how do we know if those making them are actually putting in the work? “I think that today there is a real sense of accountability that is being demanded of companies and leaders, so there is a lot of demand, which has propelled us,” says the social design specialist, who, through her work, aims to turn momentum into concrete actions and real change.

In entrepreneurship, you cannot afford to overlook your personal growth. This is the advice of Danièle-Jocelyne Otou: invest in your personal and professional development. “Our businesses reflect who we are. By being the best version of ourselves, our businesses and the people they attract are also at their best,” says the entrepreneur. “We take just as much time to transform ourselves and contribute to the social transformation we want to see. The self always precedes the systemic. We can’t change the systems without changing ourselves.”

To learn more, listen to the podcast episode on how the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement has propelled businesses on Spotify and Youtube.

This article was written by Christelle Saint-Julien

Startup + Prosper: A podcast highlighting the current state of Black entrepreneurs within Canada.

Tune into our new podcast, Startup + Prosper! Our podcast is dedicated to the key elements of the entrepreneurial mindset, with a particular focus on the current state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada. Each of the episodes aims to inspire and educate listeners about Black-owned businesses and their reality while providing more insight into Futurpreneur’s goals to grow, learn and help address the disparities faced by the BIPOC entrepreneurial community. Read their stories, listen and subscribe to our podcast, Startup + Prosper:

Think Bigger – Escaping a Micro-Entrepreneurship Mindset With Frénie Jean-Baptiste

On Belonging and Taking Space with Alfred Burgesson

Frénie Jean-Baptiste, Think Bigger – Escaping a Micro-Entrepreneurship Mindset

Think Bigger —Escaping a Micro-Entrepreneurship Mindset With Frénie Jean-Baptiste

If it doesn’t serve you, let it go. What happens when we apply that to our mindsets?

Micro-entrepreneurship refers to small companies running on minimal investment, operated by a handful of employees. If that is what Frénie Jean-Baptiste, founder of Bayard Gâteaux and Bayard Royal, first set out to do, she always saw the bigger picture. In 2015, she launched an online business specializing in baking and delivering buttercream cakes. Since then, thousands of happy tasters have enjoyed these sweet treats at home and at events, such as weddings, parties and other celebrations. In 2020, Jean-Baptiste launched Bayard Royal, a line of rum cake products that are now sold online and at various points of sale across the province.

While it may be a small business, it is a mighty operation with an impressive reach. Frénie Jean-Baptiste never considered the scale of her operations, and we could all benefit from eschewing the micro-entrepreneurship mentality, which is very present among Black entrepreneurs.

Recent studies examine the realities of Black entrepreneurship in Canada. A report by Pitch Better Canada determined that 45% of Black women entrepreneurs consider their business’ lifecycle in a growth phase. Rise Up, a research project commissioned by the Black Business Professional Association (BBPA) conducted among 700 Black women entrepreneurs, concluded that the majority of the businesses surveyed operated from home were online, and had no employees. Moreover, the Inclusive Entrepreneurship: Exploring the Barriers Facing Black Entrepreneurs in Canada project, led by the African Canadian Senate group, highlighted the lack of access to capital and resources — 44% of businesses accounted for are not able to pay themselves. And while this is the case, 87% of Black entrepreneurs surveyed report that they are somewhat optimistic about the future of their businesses.

If Jean-Baptiste had an early interest in e-commerce, it was women entrepreneurs on YouTube who inspired her to launch her first venture. As a university student, she put out a party decoration website. In her own words, it was a bust. “It didn’t work out because it required a huge investment that I didn’t have,”  she recognizes as she reflects back on the experience.

Her second idea came from the heart. Jean-Baptiste grew up very close to her grandmother—at only 4 years old, Frénie was already keen on helping her in the kitchen. Nearly two decades later, when she was attending university in Montreal, her grandma, who lived abroad, was diagnosed with cancer. Frénie decided to halt everything and spend time with her. “It was just like before, we started to cook again even though she was quite weak,”  recalls the entrepreneur. Then, it just clicked. She loved to cook, bake and already had a lot of equipment, so why not launch a food business?

Quickly, Jean-Baptiste put together a logo. Bayard is her grandmother’s name, and the cake recipe is straight from her kitchen. “I showed it to my grandmother and she was very moved,” says Jean-Baptiste. Sadly, two weeks later, Mrs. Bayard passed on, leaving her legacy with her granddaughter.

Frénie Jean-Baptiste launched her business two months later. She sought to make herself stand out by having an online business. “There are many pastry chefs in Montreal and in the community. Why not make pre-decorated cakes that are sold online? All people have to do is to order the cake. It takes two clicks , and we take care of delivery.”

At the time, the business owner hadn’t yet imagined commercializing her product everywhere in Québec. “All I wanted was to have a business. Already, it was a challenge for me. I didn’t want to venture into entrepreneurship, it’s something I did because I saw other people do it,” she says.

In 2020, she launched another brainchild, Bayard Royal. This new project bakes and sells rum cakes through a different channel, strategy and website. The product is sold everywhere in the province, and can be found at select IGA stores. “We are targeting a much larger audience,” explains the founder, adding that the past few months have been heavy on production. “People often believe that there’s a big team behind it, but we are still operating with three people,”  says Jean-Baptiste, who runs Bayard with her mother and her husband.

Keeping it modest never stopped her from thinking bigger, adjusting her strategy to her means and ambitions. “This is one of the reasons I worked hard on the strategy in order to simplify the production and manufacturing process,” she explains.

Would things be different if she launched today, rather than when she did in 2015? Absolutely. The businesswoman recognizes that there is more visibility and resources now available to Black-owned businesses. At the time, she had to do a lot of explaining for people to understand the project.

When starting out, she didn’t have a mentor. She turned to podcasts, YouTube videos, Instagram posts and books from entrepreneurs that offered guidance. “What I realized was that the people who were successful, especially in the food business, were the ones who had left the micro-entrepreneurial stage to expand into a bigger business,” she says. “It was often people who focused on one or two products, managed to save a lot on scaling and pushed out that product. I decided to have a similar strategy.” There goes one of the many pieces of advice she offers. “Instead of doing many things, having different products, pick one or two that you can master and commercialize.” For more insights, you can listen to the podcast episode Escaping a Micro-Entrepreneurship Mindset With Frénie Jean-Baptiste here.

This article was written by Christelle Saint-Julien

First Nations woman, Holly Atjecoutay, leads Futurpreneur’s Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program

Indigenous resiliency and resurgence: key pillars in the National entrepreneurial ecosystem

Cree-Saulteaux entrepreneur, Holly Atjecoutay, has been appointed director of the Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program (IESP) at Futurpreneur. In her new role, Atjecoutay will oversee the development of a comprehensive program dedicated to empowering and supporting Indigenous youth as they embark on the journey of entrepreneurship. 

Commenting on her recent appointment, Atjecoutay said she was drawn to Futurpreneur because “it is a nationwide initiative, not constricted by provincial borders.” She added, “It presents an opportunity to build a community and to build programming that is specific to our Indigenous entrepreneurs, to our Indigenous communities, and particularly to our Indigenous youth so that they can see themselves as part of the greater national entrepreneurial ecosystem . The programs will focus on their specific needs, present solutions to challenges they experience, and will give nuance to their perception of what defines a successful business.” 

The Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program is one of several startup programs offered by Futurpreneur. It was established to provide tailored support and programming for Indigenous entrepreneurs across Canada. Through the IESP, young entrepreneurs can receive up to CAD $60,0000 in capital financing, are matched with an expert mentor for up to two years, and gain access to an array of resources and workshops designed to help them set up their businesses for success. Since the programs launch in 2019, more than 100 young Indigenous entrepreneurs have received financing from Futurpreneur programming to launch various businesses nation wide.  

Atjecoutay has long been immersed in the world of Indigenous entrepreneurship and youth empowerment. She started her career working for an Indigenous-led oil and gas organization in Alberta before shifting her focus to the nonprofit sector.  With an interest in economic and business development and a hyper-focus on entrepreneurship within Indigenous communities, she worked with youth at the Aboriginal Friendship Center in Calgary, developing programs and initiatives for Indigenous youth in that region. Subsequently, she joined a First Nations-owned and operated law firm to work with residential school survivors, conducting research and extensive interviews that resulted in compensation being put forth from the federal government for the hardship, abuse, and suffering endured by First Nations people. Prior to her joining Futurpreneur, she led the Indigenous Business Development Services Program at Business Link, creating and implementing tools, supports, and programming for Indigenous entrepreneurs in Alberta. 

As Atjecoutay became more involved in entrepreneurship, her “love truly blossomed and grew for the resurgence of economic resiliency within Indigenous communities.” According to her, pre-contact First Nations peoples lived in egalitarian societies where “people very much took care of one another. Everyone held a strong role in society, which nowadays really translates to what we would consider as ‘entrepreneurship’ or a ‘business.’ So, that’s where I started to draw those finite lines to what our communities can do on a grassroots level, to ensure that we’re prosperous and that we’re building a positive and prosperous future for our next generations.” 

An entrepreneur herself, Atjecoutay’s side business, Thunderbird Consulting, stemmed from her passion to bring Indigenous resilience to the forefront of social and corporate conversations in Canada and to raise awareness among Canadians and non-Canadians, alike, about Indigenous  culture, heritage, and history. 

Continuing to develop a robust offering that is Indigenous-centric is at the top of Atjecoutay’s plans for the IESP. A combination of her lived experience and know-how as “a First Nations woman living within an urban centre,” she said, will guide her next steps in developing programming that addresses the root problems and challenges that young Indigenous entrepreneurs encounter, but also highlights the opportunities, networks, and systems in place to support them. “​​There are positive and negative pieces, just like everything else, but we want to focus on the positive and what our young Indigenous entrepreneurs bring. That is their value proposition, niche, and unique business models so that we can amplify that and support them in various ways.”  

Ultimately, she said, my goal is to “foster collaboration between Indigenous businesses to support one another, which will eventually bolster the economic resurgence that we’re working toward.” 

Indigenous-owned businesses contribute millions of dollars every year to the Canadian economy and provide thousands of jobs to Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees in Canada. “Their contributions are an important pillar of the economy, yet there is not enough awareness about the significance of Indigenous-owned and operated businesses, which is a huge barrier to success when you’re starting a small or medium-sized business,” she said. “I’m incredibly honoured to take on this new and exciting role, alongside the Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program team, to amplify Indigenous resilience and make a tangible difference in the best way that we can,” said Atjecoutay. 

Learn more about Futurpreneur’s Indigenous Entrepreneur Startup Program team and offering here.

Join our Facebook group. We are always sharing and disseminating useful information for you to take advantage of. 

Common Questions About Incorporation

Whether you’re an established entrepreneur or a new sole proprietor, if you’re contemplating incorporating your business, you likely have questions… lots of questions. That’s great! Inquiring and doing your research is the first step to incorporating––and that’s what we’re here to help you with.  

Many new entrepreneurs come to us with a multitude of questions about incorporating, so we’ve endeavored to give you as much information as we can to help set you on the path to success. 

What does it mean to incorporate my business? 

What are the pros and cons of incorporating? 

Pros: 

  • Limited liability 
  • Continuous life 
  • Tax advantages 
  • Need funding? No problem(ish) 
  • Enhanced credibility 

Cons: 

  • Far more complicated 
  • You don’t have entire control 

How do I incorporate my business? 

Some frequently asked questions 

  1. 1. What are Articles of Incorporation?
  2. 2. What is a minute book?
  3. 3. Should I incorporate federally or provincially?
  4. 4. Do I have to incorporate before starting my business?
  5. 5. What is the cost of incorporation?

 

What does it mean to incorporate my business? 

Incorporating your business means legally separating yourself from your company. This influences business spheres like taxes, liability, and salary.  

To incorporate your business, you first need to decide if you want to incorporate federally or provincially. This will impact where you can operate your business and even how far name protection extends (will it be just in the province you’re operating or will it be across Canada?).   

The process of incorporating includes filing an articles of incorporation, along with paying the appropriate fees and submitting a NUANS search report. If this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. There’s help for that, too.  

What are the pros and cons of incorporating? 

You may be asking yourself, “why should I incorporate my business?” That’s a reasonable question, after all, incorporating can feel like a big step for your business. That’s why it’s important to draw up a pros and cons list.   

Lucky for you, we’ve done exactly that.  

Pros: 

Limited liability  

This is the main reason why entrepreneurs choose to incorporate their businesses. When you incorporate your business, it becomes its own legal entity. That means assets that don’t belong to the business (such as your personal savings, your home, car, and any other assets in your name) are protected from potential  lawsuits or debt collections.  

However, there are always some exceptions where directors can be held personally liable. These are: 

 Any unpaid employee wages and vacation pay, up to six and 12 months, respectively. 

  • Employee deductions and remittances, including source deductions for employee income taxes, as well as EI and CPP contributions. 
  • Any GST/HST collections that have not been remitted.  

Continuous life 

Because a corporation is an entity separate from its directors (you), your company can remain in existence in perpetuity regardless of what happens to you or your business partners.  

For example, in some business structures, such as sole proprietorship, the business will dissolve if the owner leaves. However, with a corporation, shareholders can usually transfer their interest if they decide to pull out of the business. This also makes corporations a lot easier to sell than sole proprietorships. 

Tax advantages 

This is probably the second most common reason why sole proprietors choose to incorporate: the tax advantages it offers.  

Let’s work with an example: You own your business as a sole proprietor and, therefore, you pay personal income tax on all your business’s earnings, regardless of how much you actually take home as a salary or reinvest back into it. But at some point, the income your business makes puts your personal income into a much higher tax bracket, and you find yourself paying the government a lot more than is really necessary. In this situation, it’s beneficial to incorporate your business in order to pay less personal income tax while still drawing a salary (which you will pay personal income tax on). 

The major tax benefit comes courtesy of corporate tax rates being considerably lower than personal income tax rates.  

Need funding? No problem(ish) 

Getting a business off the ground or expanding your business is tough work and sometimes requires a lot of funds. This might be money you just don’t have laying around in your personal savings. That’s where funding can help 

Corporations are far more likely to be awarded business grants, be given loans and credit lines, and secure investors than sole proprietorships are. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an investor who will invest in a business that can’t sell them shares.  

Enhanced credibility 

Speaking of credit: professional credibility goes a long way in the business world, and a company that has “Ltd.” or “Inc.” tacked onto the end of its name is far more likely to be seen as credible. This helps establish you as a professional force, and you’ll be more likely to earn respect from future clients, as well as suppliers and other businesses you’ll work with. 

Cons: 

Far more complicated  

Incorporating a business is by far more complicated than registering as a sole proprietorship. It requires a lot more paperwork and, if you decide to incorporate federally, that paperwork is even more detailed.  

Keeping your incorporation status also requires annual updates. Keeping a minute book, which is a collection of documents that basically set out the entire framework of your company, is also legally required.  

Tax advantages 

It also works the other way around if you lose money in your business. If, for example, you are incorporated and you lose money in your first year of business you cannot claim those loses (you have to carry those loses forward until you make a profit in subsequent years). As a sole proprietorship you are allowed to claim business loses against any other income you make from the start.   

You don’t have entire control 

This is a scary thing for many business owners considering incorporation. As the owner, you no longer have entire control over what happens in your business as you may have other directors, shareholders, and investors. So think critically about whether this is something you can manage. 

How do I incorporate my business? 

Incorporating your business is a detailed process that needs to be done correctly. Some business owners choose to hire a lawyer, but the fees can be prohibitive. That said, doing it yourself isn’t always recommended as it can take a lot of time and, if not done properly, can be costly down the road.  

That’s why Ownr is here to help. Ownr can incorporate your business for a fraction of the cost than if you’d hired a lawyer. Plus, you get top-tier customer service, as well as an online dashboard so you can keep track of all of your documents and Minute Book.  

If you do choose to do it yourself, incorporating your business takes a few steps: 

Step 1: Decide where to incorporate 

In Canada, you have the option to incorporate federally or provincially. As mentioned above, the main difference is where you’re permitted to conduct your business. Incorporating provincially means you’ll only be able to operate within that province, while incorporating federally allows your corporation to operate across Canada.  

Keep in mind that if you choose to incorporate your business federally, you’ll still need to file your articles of incorporation in your  province of operation as well.  

Step 2: Choose a business name 

This can be a really fun process, but unlike registering a sole proprietorship, you do need to have a NUANS report filed alongside your articles of incorporation.  

A business name is typically threefold: 

A distinctive element + a descriptive element + a legal identifier 

For example: 

Rosie’s [distinctive element] + Roses [descriptive] + Inc. [legal identifier] 

Step 3: Prepare your documents 

You’ll need to prepare your articles of incorporation, which is the blueprint for your business, and outlines your mission, location, business activities and restrictions, the number of directors and shareholders, share structure, and restrictions or share transfers.  

Step 4: Submit your application 

Ensure you have all your documents in order before submitting your application online or by regular mail. Check with your regional requirements as provinces can vary. These documents will include your NUANS name search report, registered office address, board of directors list, and filing fee. You’ll then receive your certificate of incorporation. 

Step 5: Complete additional tasks 

The process isn’t quite finished after receiving your certificate. There are a number of duties you are legally required to fulfill in order to maintain your incorporation status, such as drafting your corporate bylaws, issuing share certificates, creating a minute book, and registering your business provincially.  

Incorporating your business can be an overwhelming undertaking. That’s why it’s important to seek help where you need it. Ask questions and even inquire within your own business community, even if just to reassure you and relieve some anxiety. However, the easiest way to incorporate and be sure you’re doing so correctly is to use our services at Ownr. 

Some frequently asked questions 

  1. What are articles of incorporation?

Articles of incorporation are your legal documents submitted to the provincial, territorial, or federal governments in Canada. They’re used to establish your business as a legal entity and help set out your corporation’s purpose and regulations.  

For a full rundown on articles of incorporation, check out this guide 

  1. What is a minute book?

A minute book is a collection of essential documents that you need to maintain as part of your incorporation status. This includes: 

Articles of amendment 

  • Bylaws and amendments 
  • Unanimous shareholder agreements 
  • Minutes of meetings and shareholder resolutions  
  • Notices filed 
  • A share register with shareholder names and addresses and details of the shares held 
  • A securities register 

Your minute book needs to be updated at all times and kept in a secure location. Storing it online is a great idea, and Ownr can help you do that.   

  1. Should I incorporate federally or provincially?

This depends on your business goals. If you’re looking to conduct business across Canada, or need business name protection federally rather than just provincially, you may want to consider federal incorporation. If not, provincial incorporation is a simpler process. 

Here’s a handy guide to help you through this decision.  

  1. Do I have to incorporate before starting my business?

Not at all! In fact, there are many sole proprietors who choose to incorporate long after they’ve been in business. It’s really an individual thing and something that you should do only when it’s right for you. 

  1. What is the cost of incorporation?

The cost of incorporation depends on where you incorporate, if you incorporate federally or provincially, and if you do it yourself, hire a lawyer, or use help like Ownr. For filing fees, it’s best to check with your region.  

Ready to take the next step? 

Choosing to incorporate your business is a big decision and one you might need some help with. When you do decide to register, Ownr can help you for a fraction of the cost of hiring a lawyer, and do so accurately and quickly. Plus, you’ll get all kinds of perks like a free NUANS report, minute book updates, 24/7 online access to all your documents, one-on-one onboarding, and ongoing support to set you up for success. 

Choosing Between Federal vs Provincial Incorporation

If you’re an entrepreneur looking into incorporating your business, you probably have lots of questions. Incorporating is a big decision, and there is a lot of advice that can make it far more complex than it needs to be.

One of the big questions to ask yourself is “should I incorporate federally or provincially?”

The answer is: it depends.

There are a few things you should know before you make this decision. That’s where we’re here to help.

What does it mean to incorporate your business?

First, what does incorporating your business even mean? A few things, actually.

Incorporating means separating your business legally from you personally. A sole proprietorship or partnership business is not separated legally or for tax purposes from the owner(s). Sure, an owner pays their taxes as a business and claims business expenses, but at the end of the day, income earned by the business is still personal income.

This also means that the owners of the business are personally liable for all the operations of the business, including debts and legal obligations. This means that if there are ever any debt collections or lawsuits, those actions will be brought against the owners of the business rather than the business itself, exposing the owners to possible financial risk and loss of personal assets, such as real estate, cars, computers, etc.

In contrast, a corporation is an entity that is legally separate from its owners and is governed by the corporation legislation in the region it’s incorporated, whether that’s federally or provincially. A corporation has directors and shareholders, and legal responsibilities to keep their incorporation documents up to date and to file any changes.

Once you reach a tax threshold with your business, you may want to consider incorporating, thus saving money you can invest back into your business. Win, win!

If you do decide to incorporate your business, the next step is to decide if you’re going to incorporate federally or provincially.

Choosing between federal vs provincial incorporation

While the primary difference between incorporations and sole proprietorships is the separation of legal entities, including finances, there are also differences between incorporating federally and provincially.

Here’s a rundown of the differences between provincial and federal incorporation:

Incorporating your business provincially

Incorporating your business provincially means you are only conducting business in that province in which you are incorporated. For many small business owners, this is perfectly okay. However, if you want to expand into other provinces or territories, you might run into difficulties.

Incorporating provincially means that your company then operates under the provincial legislation that governs corporations in your region. For the most part, incorporating provincially means the same across provinces, however there are some variations. It’s best to become familiar with the requirements of your own province.

When you incorporate provincially, your business name is then protected in that province. But that province only. There might be another business in another province that is incorporated under the same name, and this is entirely legal. If you want to protect your business name across Canada, you’ll have to do so federally.

For many small business owners who don’t intend to conduct business across Canada, incorporating provincially is far more time and cost effective than incorporating federally. When incorporating provincially, you only need to file your documents on a provincial level. Provincial incorporation fees tend to be less than federal, and the extent of documentation is less onerous.

However, regardless of whether you’re incorporating provincially or federally, undertaking this process alone can be a challenge, and hiring a lawyer can be cost prohibitive. Using a service to help you incorporate your business can save you time and money. And costly errors!

Overall, here are the main points:

  • Provincial incorporation means only conducting business in that province
  • Provincial incorporation protects your business name in that province only
  • Provincial incorporation is usually less expensive and time consuming than federal incorporation

Here are some provincial resources:

Incorporating your business federally

Federal incorporation in Canada is governed by Corporations Canada, and offers generally wider protections.

Federal incorporation allows you to conduct business in all provinces and territories. If you incorporate provincially, you can only conduct business in that province. If you want to expand into another province or territory, you’ll need to incorporate in that region as well. This can increase costs of incorporation. Federal incorporation requires more annual paperwork than provincial incorporation, and the initial cost of incorporation is higher than provincial.

However, if you incorporate federally, you’ll still need to incorporate in the province in which your business resides. For example, if you are an Ontario business owner and want to incorporate federally, you’ll need to do so both with Corporations Canada and the Province of Ontario. By incorporating federally however, you will be allowed to conduct business all across Canada.

Alongside being able to conduct business across Canada, incorporating federally also gives you federal business name protection, a factor that is important to a lot of business owners and a big reason why they choose to incorporate federally. If you incorporate provincially and find you need to incorporate in another province, there is a chance you will have to operate under a different business name. There may also be the added complication that if you only have name protection in the province or territory you operate in, there might be another business in another jurisdiction that is operating under the same or a very similar name as yours.

Overall, here are the main points:

  • Federal incorporation allows you to conduct business across Canada
  • Federal incorporation protects your business name across Canada
  • Federal incorporation is more expensive and time consuming than provincial incorporation
  • If you incorporate federally, you’ll still need to incorporate your business in the province in which you primarily operate

Making the final decision: federal or provincial incorporation

Making the final decision to incorporate your business can be a tough one. You might want to talk to some colleagues and other business owners in your community. Finding a mentor is also a great idea as they are savvy in the business world and can help guide you through these decisions.

A few questions to ask yourself are:

  • Am I looking to expand into other provinces in Canada?
  • Do I want name protection across Canada or just my province?
  • What resources do I have available to undertake incorporation?
  • What are my future business growth goals?

Regardless of whether you incorporate provincially or federally, you’ll most likely need some guidance. Where lawyers can be costly, Ownr makes it simple for you to set up your business’ legal structure, so you can focus on growing your business.

Introducing the 2022 Growth Accelerator cohort!

Our economy never stops growing, and the Futurpreneur team believes the growth of your company shouldn’t either. 

Beginning this week through to June, Futurpreneur’s Growth Accelerator has invited 14 entrepreneurs within Canada to build upon the success of their business(s). Facilitated digitally for the second year, entrepreneurs will gain invaluable knowledge on how to pitch to new potential buyers, drive sales through an e-commerce platform, and tap into new markets without leaving the comfort of their own home.  

Entrepreneurs specializing in the packaged goods industry via their own enterprises will partake in workshops, meetings, and networking sessions. These growth opportunities have been carefully curated to propel entrants towards their goals and offer real-world strategies to generate success in the years to come.  

This year’s Growth Accelerator is offered in partnership with Spin Master Inc.and supported by Dentons Canada and Ramp Communications. The entire Futurpreneur family wishes to extend our thanks to our partners for supporting this initiative and accelerating the future of entrepreneurship.

Showcasing the future:  

7 SUMMITS SNACKS (Edmonton, AB):

7 Summits Snacks is a women-led company specializing in nutritional chocolate products. Eager to fuel your next adventure, they hope to inform the general public about the multi-faceted health benefits of chocolate and increase their revenues by 200%.

 

ALLETT CANADA (Ottawa, ON):

Allett Canada imports, sells, and distributes luxury cylinder mowers and sports turf equipment to homeowners and enterprises across the country–while offering service and warranty claims for both. Allett intends to double their revenues from their previous fiscal year.  

BE SPRUCY (Toronto, ON):

Be Sprucy is a personal hygiene brand that produces non-traditional hand sanitizer and a range of other hygiene offerings. Sprucy intends to showcase their sustainably created products to increase brand awareness and achieve their goal of becoming the world’s leading personal hygiene company.   

CHIWIS (Squamish, BC):

Chiwis is a women-led, proud certified, company which creates 100% natural fruit chips by creatively re-using fruit. They plan to increase their customer base and therefore provide more opportunities for prospective customers to enjoy their sustainable offerings. 

FLAX HOME (Vancouver, BC):

Flax Home produces ultra-soft, ultra-breathable, bedding, towels, and home goods made from 100% pure linen. They plan to extend market expansion and expand the scale of their operations.  

 

JAAN FOODS (Surrey, BC):

Jaan Foods makes clean label, plant-based foods from a high standard culinary perspective. They aspire to increase revenues through digital marketing, scale their general operations, and generate increased value propositions for their investors.  

MILLER BOX CO. (Hamilton, ON):

Miller Box Co. masterfully crafts customized, curated gift boxes showcasing local and Canadian businesses. Miller Box Co. intends to increase operational efficiency and refine their marketing and growth strategies.  

 

MONUTS (Winnipeg, MB):

MoNUTs provides handcrafted, plant-based, protein donut snacks derived from nutritious ingredients and their own unique blend of plant-based sweeteners—with no sugar additives. MoNUTS strives to increase their market stake and boost brand awareness through digital marketing strategies.  

MORE EATS (Toronto, ON):

More Eats flagship product is a gourmet granola made with simple and nutritious ingredients crafted into flavors inspired by classic desserts. More Eats intends to enhance their sales strategies to bolster research and development while expanding into new markets. 

OAT & MILL (Colborne, ON):

Oat & Mill offers a premium, plant-based, array of frozen desserts from carefully selected ingredients and in-house crafted oat cream. They hope to refine the growth strategy for their enterprise and provide more delicious offerings to more customers.  

ROLL UP (Etobicoke, ON):

Roll Up is a personal hygiene paper company utilizing sustainable Bamboo pulp. They’re unique brand identity brings character and environmentally conscious products to the general public while being 100% plastic free.  

SARKO BEAUTY (Coquitlam, BC):

Sarko Beauty offers a variety of human hair products: extensions, toppers and wigs. Their brands’ expert customer service includes a growing community that intends to generate self-empowerment and confidence for all. Sarko Beauty hopes to refine their growth strategy to scale operations and generate more revenue.  

SOULDEO NATURALS (Winkler, MB):

SoulDeo Naturals creates all-natural personal hygiene products. The success of their natural deodorant led to the development of a variety of best-selling hygiene products. SoulDeo Naturals seeks to further develop their growth strategies to increase their success. 

WOLSELEY KOMBUCHA (Winnipeg, MB):

Wolseley Kombucha is a woman-owned and operated kombucha company. Their product is organic, raw, healthy, and undiluted. They aspire to improve their market entry strategy to access more customers and generate both brand awareness and increase revenues. 

 

Are you looking to take your business from idea to success? Click here to discover our programs and offerings. 

 

Article written by Jason T.L. Bailey  

G20 YEA 2021: In-Person Delegation Announcement & Activity Updates

The Canadian delegation is getting ready to attend the G20 Young Entrepreneur Alliance Summit (G20 YEA) on October 5th and 6th in Milan, which was organized by Confindustria Giovani Imprenditori, with support from our partner Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Trade Commissioner Services (TCS). 

The Summit is titled Global Renaissance: Sustainability, inclusion and innovation for prosperity. Young entrepreneurs participating will be conquering topics such as inclusion, climate change and environment innovation, as well as the digitalization and future of work. 

G20 Youth Entrepreneurship Alliance In-Person Delegation Announced

Given the current COVID-19 regulations, travel restrictions and the safety of participants, the Summit is proceeding as a hybrid event. Instead of the full G20 YEA delegation traveling to the host destination, a team of 13 selected delegates will be representing the Canadian delegation in person in Milan, led by Futurpreneur’s G20 YEA President, Dan Ouimet, and Sherpa, Mégane Visette. Meanwhile, the remaining 36 delegates will be participating in summit events and lending their crucial input remotely from across Canada. 

After much consideration, the 13 individuals who have been selected to participate in-person and represent our delegation at the Summit are:  

Three delegates have also been selected by our Italian hosts and Summit partner Accenture to speak during the Summit’s global panels: Annie Cyr, Jean-Sébastien Bouchard, and Reneta Johnson. 

G20 Youth Entrepreneurship Alliance 2021 Pre-Summit Activities

Over the course of the summer, our delegation took part in consultative Taskforce meetings led by Futurpreneur and our G20 YEA alumni and Taskforce leads: Steph Limage (Digitization, Innovation & Future of Work Track), Ghalia Aamer (Inclusion and Equal Opportunities Track), and Nina Lantinga (Sustainability, Climate Change and Energy Track).  

Delegates had the opportunity to meet with and learn from a variety of stakeholders, including the Youth 20 (Y20) delegation led by Young Diplomats of Canada, the Women 20 (W20), G(irls)20, the YWCA, and the Women’s Economic Council (WEC). During these meetings, delegates were able to outline Canadian young entrepreneurs’ priorities under the themes of the 2021 Summit and Communiqué. 

The Canadian delegation additionally benefited from the following virtual sessions: 

  • The Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) briefed our delegates on the importance of IP protection at home and abroad. For more information on CIPO, click here. 
  • The Inclusive Trade team at EDC, one of our 2021 Delegation Partners, also briefed our delegates on pitching and value proposition, financing for international growth, and the variety of EDC services available to young entrepreneurs’ SMEs, especially women and BIPOC entrepreneurs. For more information on EDC, click here. 
  • The Trade Commissioner Services continues to provide meaningful resources and support to our delegates looking to export and trade in Italy, as well as other G20 countries. For more information on TCS, click here. 

About the G20 Youth Entrepreneurship Alliance

To maximize the transformative potential of the most brilliant minds in youth entrepreneurship across the globe, the G20 YEA Summit was launched in 2010 in Toronto. Young people were united to put forth recommendations concerning the global entrepreneurship agenda discussed in the leaders’ G20 and G7 summits. With the overwhelming success of the conference, the G20 YEA annual summit was launched, and Futurpreneur was selected to represent the Canadian delegation. Over the years, the summits have helped influence topics such as barriers to capital, skills and entrepreneurial training, free trade, sustainable business models and more. 

Learn more about the G20 YEA here.  

National Indigenous History Month

June is National Indigenous History Month – a time when we are asked to reflect upon the history and heritage of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities across Canada. 

At Futurpreneur, we aim to celebrate and showcase – throughout June and every month of the year – the contributions that Indigenous young entrepreneurs are making in their communities and regions across the country. 

Futurpreneur has been serving young entrepreneurs from a broad array of backgrounds since our inception. Through the work of our dedicated Indigenous Young Entrepreneur (IYE) team, we seek to build on that foundation, supporting more and more First Nations, Inuit and Métis youth on their entrepreneurial journeys. 

In addition to encouraging and supporting Indigenous small business owners through funding and mentorship, we are also collaborating with Indigenous organizations to fulfill our mission, showcasing role models to inspire other Indigenous young people to consider launching a business as a career path, and developing and delivering culturally relevant and appropriate programming. 

Our commitment to reaching and serving IYEs is reflected in Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Call to Action 92, which asks the Canadian corporate sector to “ensure that Aboriginal peoples have equitable access to jobs, training, and education opportunities in the corporate sector, and that Aboriginal communities gain long-term sustainable benefits from economic development projects.”

This journey is ongoing. Our IYE team, along with the entire staff at Futurpreneur, will work daily to learn, grow and establish new ways to support young Indigenous people across Canada, meeting them where they are and readying them for success. 

Learn more about our programming for Indigenous entrepreneurs here.

G20YEA Summit: “Perfect for any company interested in expanding beyond borders”

Hamza Khan and Daniel Martinovic are the co-founders of Vimto. Last year, the Toronto-based entrepreneurs joined the Canadian delegation to the 2020 G20YEA Summit in Saudi Arabia. Ahead of the 2021 summit in Italy, the cofounders share their experiences meeting fellow delegates, making international connections and exploring ways to expand their business globally.

Vimto.co is a software as a service​ that assists startups and small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) in automating their sales funnels, all while providing a tailored knowledge base. Acting as a digital growth consultant, Vimto helps businesses to scale internationally and enter new markets.

We undertook this project following a trip to Turkey, where we engaged in some consulting with the government. We were tasked to help SMEs export their technologies. While there, it troubled us that there were so many remarkable entrepreneurs with impressive businesses and products, whose growth was limited by their inability to sell. This bothered us to the point where we recognized that we could turn this problem into a full on venture, and Vimto was born.

The G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance Summit in Saudi Arabia

In 2020, Vimto was fortunate to be included as a participant at the G20 YEA summit, thanks to the amazing team at Futurpreneur! Being two of the younger delegates among the talented cohort, we had the most amazing time meeting and learning from other Canadian entrepreneurs. The shift to a digital summit, due to COVID-19, provided us with the unique opportunity to meet like-minded leaders from around the globe to dissect real problems, collaborate on ideas, and foster a community.

During this summit, we learned a lot from the Trade Commissioner Services about how Canadians can better access the world trade network. Through this and the wide range of bilateral meetings, our team made new and notable connections in countries such as Saudi Arabia, India, South Africa, United Kingdom, Mexico, and made many friends. Most invaluably, we learned about their markets directly from the source. Due to the very nature of the G20, this summit is perfect for anyone or any company interested in expanding beyond borders.

Since Vimto’s new pivot focuses on emerging markets and elevating small businesses with a user-friendly sales outreach tool, we were appreciative of the opportunity to further test and pivot our model, all while working closely with real-world business owners to learn more. We believe the process of sales does not have to be so time consuming and we want founders and owners to focus on what really matters – their business. We started off Vimto by helping businesses to identify international prospects and setting up their sales funnel. We always had the idea of taking it one step further by actually closing deals for the companies on their behalf. The G20 YEA connected us to companies that helped us to validate this premise.

Our Key Takeaways

One of the more notable outcomes of this experience is a potential partnership with SABIC. Showcasing our teams’ services and strengths, we have plans to travel and meet in-person in KSA this year to build on our virtual connection.

Other wins would come shortly after we attended the summit. For instance, with our better understanding of world trade, we were able to start establishing innovative projects such as WorldTree – Guyana and Fortress Cement in the fastest growing country by GDP per capita. We are assisting with the business development and implementation aspects of these projects and tying them into the Low Carbon Development Strategy for the Co-operative Republic of Guyana. G20 YEA provided us with a little more validation to make these partnerships and agreements possible.

One of our founders is Guyanese; though he was born and raised in Toronto, he spent quite a bit of time in Guyana in his youth. Guyana had the fastest growing economy in 2020 due to its fairly recent oil and natural gas discovery. He always wanted to invest in Guyana, even before the oil boom. Even though we are just starting out, G20 YEA helped open the door to a lifelong goal. We’re excited for 2021.

One of the great moments of the virtual conference happened during the Indian bilateral meeting, where we got the chance to reconnect with the Canadian trade minister to India, HE Annie Dubé. The wildest part: She recognized our founding member Hamza from his trip to Mumbai earlier in 2020, before the global COVID lockdown, when he met with her in person. It was nice to know that the G20 does not just establish new connections, but actually helped to revive and prolong a past connection.

From One Young Entrepreneur to Another

Our G20 YEA journey started on the last day of applications, one hour before midnight. All too familiar with handing in assignments and projects in the 11th hour, we debated on whether to finish the application. It was after a long and exhausting day of meetings, but we decided to shoot for it.

Needless to say, my co-founder and I are very glad we decided to take the leap as young entrepreneurs. The knowledge and connections we have gained have been invaluable, allowing us not only to pivot successfully but to thrive in this chaotic time.

So if you are reading this, and are on the fence about joining the G20 YEA summit, we would highly recommend that you go for it. The Vimto team is looking forward to meeting you next year!

The 2021 G20 YEA, hosted by Italy, will take place October 5-8, 2021. Apply now.

How the G20YEA Summit helped me grow my business and network globally

The 2020 G20YEA young entrepreneurship summit was a great experience and a valuable opportunity to grow my business, Benjamin David Group.

This year’s summit was held in Saudi Arabia, but, given COVID-19, it wasn’t possible to hold the event face-to-face. That didn’t matter, because our Saudi hosts and official G20 YEA Saudi members stepped in and made the event possible by helping us get connected online, and Futurpreneur-led training and trade activities for the Canadian delegation were also held through Zoom.

Before I get into the specifics of the event, I just want to mention that opportunities like this one are available to anyone, but it is important to chase them. To be part of the Canadian delegation, there’s a process to follow with Futurpreneur, the official Canadian member of the G20YEA and leader of our delegation, and an application to submit. I think it’s important to be willing to participate in these things and push ourselves forward on our own entrepreneurial paths.

My journey at the 2020 G20YEA was incredible. I was able to network with young entrepreneurs from different countries and hear keynotes from speakers who are esteemed in their fields. The keynotes were an excellent beginning to the days and gave us practical lessons from industry leaders.

However, I most enjoyed the networking that took place afterwards with the other delegates. Having such a diverse group of entrepreneurs is what really made the 2020 G20YEA special for me. Being able to connect with these people not only opened my business up to new opportunities, but also exposed me to what entrepreneurship looks like globally. Access to both of these incredible opportunities made the journey a great experience overall, despite the complications that the 2020 landscape brought.

My biggest takeaways from the event came from being able to connect and meet with different trade commissioners, who gave us invaluable resources to understand how to do business in different countries. At the same time, we had several opportunities to network amongst ourselves, which opened up a promising business opportunity with another Canadian delegate, Abdaal Mazhar Shafi, partner at Quantum Lead. Just by sharing our industry, specialty and business focus, we were able to connect and start discussing how to work together. Now we are partnering with Quantum Lead to our customers’ benefit by introducing them to the other organization’s dynamic range of services. Our respective businesses also benefit from the chance to cross-sell and the expanded opportunities for operation and growth.

Having the opportunity to connect with another Canadian delegate and understand their focus outside of Canada was invaluable on its own.  But also learning from the trade commissioners themselves about how to explore new markets like the United States really opened my mind about clarifying our goals and better understanding what it takes to expand our service offerings outside of Canada. Achieving this requires a deep understanding of the market as well as a clear plan for how to access it. Through the different touch points and sessions at the event, this business goal became clearer and more achievable.

My other impression of the event was the significant diversity of our delegation. I was very pleased to see so many cultures, backgrounds and strong women making up this year’s delegation. I truly believe that the more diverse forums are, the more holistic the solutions that come from those discussions are, because of the different perspectives seated at the same table.

I’m looking forward to participating at the next summit in Italy and taking advantage of this incredible opportunity to keep expanding my network and business through the G20YEA in whatever form it may take.

For any future aspiring Canadian delegates, my advice is to come with a giving mentality: The more doors you are willing to open for others, the more doors could be opened for you and your business. As a young entrepreneur I have come to realize that running a business depends a lot on excelling and growing in the art of connecting with others. The G20YEA is a great opportunity to not only expand your network, but to better understand the international landscape.

The 2021 G20 YEA, hosted by Italy, will take place October 5-8, 2021. Apply now.

Caren Carrasco is the co-founder of Benjamin David Group.

Mona-Lisa Prosper, Director, Black Entrepreneurs, Futurpreneur

Meet Mona-Lisa Prosper, Futurpreneur’s Director, Black Entrepreneurs

Mona-Lisa Prosper is the new Director, Black Entrepreneurs at Futurpreneur – a culmination of a multifaceted career that’s spanned a broad variety of fields and disciplines.

Over the past decade, Prosper has garnered experience in the fields of law, entrepreneurship, economic development and talent acquisition, working with everyone from tech firms to fashion designers. Along the way, she developed an unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion.

“I was like, ‘Wow, what a great link of all of my passions and goals,’” Prosper says. “I have an eclectic professional background, but I thought this was the perfect combination of everything I’ve done so far.”

As part of the new role, Prosper will be spearheading the newly-launched Black Entrepreneur Startup Program (BESP), an initiative funded by RBC with additional loan financing from BDC.

The program is a tailored version of Futurpreneur’s Start-Up Program, which has supported thousands of entrepreneurs across Canada. The just-announced BESP offers up to $60,000 in financing, plus expert mentorship and resources, to Black aspiring entrepreneurs aged 18-39 across Canada.

A native of Montreal, Prosper began her career in law and is still a member of the Quebec bar. Supporting entrepreneurs became a focus right out of the gate for Prosper; her first venture out of school was Propulsio 360, a law firm aimed at helping aspiring small business owners navigate the legal landscape.

The firm, which Prosper co-founded, helped entrepreneurs at a variety of stages, from businesses still in the idea phase to those equipped with a plan and ready to put it in motion. While still at Propulsio 360, she recognized the valuable support that Futurpreneur offers to young entrepreneurs and referred a number of aspiring business owners to the organization.

“I think the of my work at Propulsio 360 that was most fulfilling was giving tools to other very creative people to help bring their dreams to fruition,” she says.

Prosper had another, more personal goal in co-founding the firm: Stretching her skill set and exploring opportunities beyond the world of law. “In the beginning, starting my business was a way of expressing myself, just being ‘more than a lawyer’ – I had so many interests and wanted to do so many things,” she says.

Realizing that her career trajectory was ultimately leading her away from the legal world, she left the business. For a year, she worked in recruiting, helping new companies find their first employees: “It was a way to get to know businesses and learn their specific needs,” she says.

After that, she pursued an opportunity with Montreal’s economic promotion agency, MTL International, building relationships within the business ecosystem and helping international companies expand to that city. Prosper then became president of the Jeune Chambre de Commerce des Femmes du Québec (Young Chamber of Commerce of Women of Québec).

Along the way, she became a staunch advocate for representation and inclusive governance, including becoming one of the diversity ambassadors at regional development firm Concertation MTL, and serving on the founding team of the #Ensembleinc Movement in Québec. 

Prosper, whose parents immigrated from Haiti, says she was taught to be proud of her roots from an early age. Echoing others in the Futurpreneur network involved in diversity efforts (including Futurpreneur mentor Njeri Watkins), Prosper says that after many years of tireless work from anti-racism advocates, the broader business world is gradually becoming more receptive to conversations around race and diversity.

“These issues have been there forever, and different entities in different ways have been screaming from the top of their lungs about them, but it was never taken seriously,” she says.

“It took many tragic events and a pandemic, but right now, it feels like people are finally listening – in the business world, in nonprofits, everywhere … It feels different this time than any other time before. People are realizing that in order to truly be diverse and inclusive, you need to take concrete action – or else you might as well just not try.”

The care and thought put into the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program was what attracted her to the idea of working with Futurpreneur, she says.

“I was very impressed – whether it’s through working with human rights lawyers or having a D&I expert consultant as part of the team within Futurpreneur – by the thought that came through every part of the process … I don’t like ‘fluff,’ for lack of a better term. It needs to have impact and be well thought out, which is what this program is,” she adds.

While the newly-launched program is still being refined, Prosper is confident it will continue to take shape in a way that will offer tailored, comprehensive support to young Black entrepreneurs in Canada.

“There are still lots of systemic barriers for Black entrepreneurs, and it’s mainly linked to funding. I feel like the program specifically addresses that,” she says. “It’s more than just giving tools – it’s really about access to money, because you need money to be able to build your business. It’s a well thought out way to give access to funds, and resources.”

With the BESP officially launched, Prosper says she’s eager to hit the ground running, working with partner groups and with the rest of the Futurpreneur team to keep developing the program.

“A year from now, I want us to be very happy with the turnout – that we reached our goals, and the program is successful.”

Learn more about the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program.

Futurpreneur’s Black Entrepreneur Startup Program: A resolute commitment to Black entrepreneurship

Kevin Garcia is the Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Futurpreneur.

I’m excited to announce the launch of Futurpreneur’s Black Entrepreneur Startup Program—funded by RBC and building on our longstanding collaboration with BDC—an initiative designed to focus directly on the needs of young Black entrepreneurs across Canada who are seeking support to launch or acquire their own businesses. Not only does this program represent a new opportunity for emerging Black entrepreneurs, but it also builds on the remarkable work undertaken by Futurpreneur over the last twenty-five years in nurturing and guiding the entrepreneurial ambitions and ideas of diverse young people across Canada.

As Futurpreneur marks its 25th anniversary this year, I couldn’t be prouder to be the Head of Diversity & Inclusion at this organization. Diversity & Inclusion are core values of ours and woven into everything we do. On the Diversity & Inclusion Council, I am joined by eleven team members, most of whom identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour, and over the past year, we have all provided input on ways to tailor our programming to each community’s particular needs and circumstances. Together with our increasingly diverse colleagues, leaders, board members and sponsors, Black council members and others in the organization with lived experience have helped shape this new Black Entrepreneur Startup Program, providing direction on the way in which it will develop, function, and respond to the needs of the young Black entrepreneurs we support.

Why now?

I recognize that world events in the last two years have placed a spotlight on issues of systemic racism and discrimination in our society and societies around the globe. We are living in a moment of change and reassessment. It is my belief that we are, finally, on the cusp of a genuine realignment that demands equitable treatment and positive opportunity.

It is no coincidence that Futurpreneur is embarking on the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program at this moment. The people who have worked to bring this program to life recognize the need for a resolute commitment matched by a concerted effort and concrete actions. I believe the launch of the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program is an important milestone on the path to meaningful change.

How will this program address systemic barriers faced by Black entrepreneurs?

I know there are skeptics within the young Black community in Canada when it comes to programs aimed at supporting Black-led businesses and Black entrepreneurs. I also recognize that significant challenges and barriers have existed and continue to exist. As someone with lived experience, I know there are many in the Black community who have felt the sting of being treated inequitably too many times and in too many circumstances.

I myself have been denied credit and dismissed for not fitting prescribed criteria when seeking financing and categorized as “too risky” by lenders. But I urge you to consider applying for this program at Futurpreneur. We have created a different, more inclusive experience for talented, motivated and creative individuals who want to start their own businesses and make unique contributions to their communities.

What is the Black Entrepreneur Startup Program?

When I’m asked to describe the program, I explain that it is the first step of a journey—a huge first step.

We’ve customized key components of Futurpreneur’s core Startup Program to reflect aspiring Black entrepreneurs’ needs, identifying ways to provide more inclusive loan financing, ensure national networking opportunities across our community—while building bridges to other communities—and enhance valuable mentor support. And we will do more.

The program does not make pronouncements about what young Black entrepreneurs need. Instead, by basing the program on the input of many people with lived experience, who have provided a clear understanding of the obstacles that young Black entrepreneurs have faced, it acknowledges the need for a new approach and aims to reduce these barriers.

Through this journey, as the program evolves, we will actively look for ways to make it even more equitable. We’ll be creative, and will recalculate and recalibrate along the way to ensure our programs respond to the needs of young Black entrepreneurs, helping them realize their dreams of business ownership.

I’m very proud of what we have done to create this program at Futurpreneur and hope it will help young Black entrepreneurs realize their dreams of establishing and building their businesses. We now have a genuine opportunity to do this together, to acknowledge our shared struggle, and to demonstrate our capabilities and creativity.

Please let us know your thoughts on our initiative and how we can help. Join us in making successful and enduring Black businesses a reality in this moment—starting with yours.

I encourage you to apply today!

Frenie Jean-Baptiste: A Flavourful Journey

Frenie Jean-Baptiste fondly remembers inhaling the smell of rum syrup simmering on her grandmother’s stove before pouring the sticky sauce on a boldly flavoured rum cake they would bake together. Her grandmother always let her taste everything as it cooked – it’s what made her fall in love with the art of baking.

Jean-Baptiste comes from a Haitian family, where cakes and baked goods were always part of any celebration. “I was a child when I fell in love with baking. My grandmother taught me all the basics and I have the most beautiful memories of her,” Jean-Baptiste says.

When her grandmother passed away in 2015, Jean-Baptiste decided to honour her memory through Bayard Gateaux to continue her legacy. Alongside the wonderful memories, Jean-Baptiste says, “she left me her kitchen mixer,” which she used to replicate her grandmother’s childhood recipes.

“When I first started, before launching my spirits cakes, I made a lot of personalized cakes and that’s how I developed my artistic side and worked with buttercream, flowers and other decorating elements,” she says. “But I prefer decorations to be simple – as for flavours, I’ve always loved to create. I love combining and testing flavours from here and elsewhere.”

Despite having incredible products and an entourage that was very supportive, getting the business to take off required a lot of effort. “The biggest challenge was to make myself known. It took a lot of collaboration, sponsorships, participation in trade shows and a constant presence on social media.”

Looking back at her startup experience, she emphasizes the importance of surrounding yourself with experts: “From the very beginning, find people you can go to – especially for the financial stuff. Do not be afraid to go to people. In my early days I contacted event organizers and experienced pastry chefs, and everyone was happy to talk to me and give me advice.”

Her efforts did eventually pay off, and Jean-Baptiste decided it was time to expand. “At the end of 2019, I decided to make a big investment and launch a brand-new range of cakes. I wanted to market rum cakes, soaked in rum syrup without frosting and vacuum-sealed. I needed big machines, several moulds and a production space.”

That growth required a lot of support, and while financing helped her get started, it was the mentorship that she deeply valued: “Thanks to Futurpreneur, I was able not only to get financing to realize this project, but also have a mentor accompany me at the beginning.”

The support she received has helped her realize the importance of mentorship and surrounding yourself with people that are supportive and can help guide you through your journey. Similarly, the experience she’s gained helps her support others experiencing similar challenges.

Since COVID-19 began, Jean-Baptiste has been strictly offering socially distanced local deliveries. She hopes to expand to all of Canada in the future.

If you are craving something sweet, find her cakes online at bayardgateaux.com.

 

As a national organization, Futurpreneur honours and acknowledges the traditional and ancestral territories of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples across the country. We recognize the diversity of Indigenous peoples and communities coast to coast, including over 600 First Nations Communities, four Inuit Nunangat regions comprised of 53 Inuit communities, Métis Nations, settlements and regions, Treaties 1-11, 25 modern treaties, and all unceded territories. We respect the historic and current relationship Indigenous peoples have to the land on which we reside. We are committed to collaborating and establishing respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples by striving to practice reconciliation in our everyday lives, communities, and workplaces. We encourage you to take part in learning the local Indigenous history of the land on which you reside.