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The Southwestern Ontario Black Business Network project aims to enhance services and build capacity to support Black business owners and entrepreneurs in the greater Hamilton and Windsor areas.

Through the project, Empowerment Squared, working alongside a consortium of partners such as WEtech Alliance, Innovation Factory, Hamilton Black History Council, CoMotion, Mohawk College and McMaster University, will provide Black entrepreneurs in the Hamilton and Windsor areas with advisory services, mentorship, entrepreneurial training and networking opportunities to help them succeed.

The project aims to support the creation of 80 new jobs and 275 Black entrepreneurs. For official press release, click here.

WEtech Alliance will be the project’s lead implementing partner in the Windsor-Essex region, in collaboration with members of the Windsor-Essex Black Entrepreneur and Professional Program Advisory Committee, and will be subcontracted to support the successful execution of the project in the region, including local service delivery, networking, matchmaking and mentorship, promotional activities, hosting events and activities, supplying space, and connecting participants with affiliated services. The project will also see a full-time Coordinator hired to support the program delivery in Windsor-Essex.

“We are proud to support Empowerment Squared and the work it does for Black entrepreneurs in Hamilton and Windsor. The Government of Canada’s support through the Black Entrepreneurship Program Ecosystem Fund is an important step to ensure that Black entrepreneurs and business owners have the tools they need to access the capital, services, mentorship, and networking opportunities to succeed and drive inclusive economic growth in our communities.”

The Honourable Helena Jaczek

Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“Through the Black Entrepreneurship Program, the Government of Canada is working alongside Black-led organizations to ensure Black Canadian entrepreneurs have access to critical knowledge, capital, tools and support they need. This investment in Empowerment Squared to create the Southwestern Ontario Black Business Network is just one part of our whole-of-government approach to supporting an inclusive future for Black entrepreneurs in Windsor-Tecumseh and across Canadians.”

Irek Kusmierczyk

Member of Parliament for Windsor-Tecumseh

“As the Black community continues to deal with the historical deficits caused by marginalization, we are pleased to have a partner in FedDev Ontario that is willing and intentional about providing the resources and investment required to empower Black entrepreneurs. This initiative will also support the COVID-19 recovery efforts where businesses in the Black community were disproportionately affected.”

Leo Nupolu Johnson

Founder & Executive Director, Empowerment Squared

“We look forward to continued work together with Empowerment Squared and the Windsor-Essex Black Entrepreneur and Professional Program Advisory Committee to help empower the next wave of Black-owned tech and non-tech startups and companies here in Windsor-Essex. It is our collective goal to ensure we build a supportive and inclusive ecosystems where all entrepreneurs can thrive.”

Yvonne Pilon

President & CEO, WEtech Alliance

“The Southwestern Ontario Black Business Network will create opportunities for wealth in Windsor-Essex and beyond by building an inclusive and representative community.”

Claudius Thomas

CEO, Turaco Web International Group Inc.

There is a strong demand for young Black entrepreneurs in the Windsor – Essex region. I am very proud to be part of an initiative that provides services to Black-led initiatives. Economic empowerment requires that Black communities be economically educated to run successful entrepreneurial ventures.

Dr. Philip Olla

CEO and Co-Founder, Audacia Bioscience

“This program was developed to improve trust, confidence, hope and belonging within our regional Black community.”

Omolade Williams

Founder, BLAccess

WINDSOR-ESSEX BLACK ENTREPRENEUR AND PROFESSIONAL PROGRAM ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Led by successful regional Black business entrepreneurs, professionals and leaders, the Program Advisory Committee will work with WEtech Alliance to lead activities in the area. Members of the group include:

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Dr. Phillip Olla

Dr. Phillip Olla is the CEO and co-founder of Audacia Bioscience, a biotech company that creates innovative point of care diagnostic devices, using a combination of lateral flow technology, integrated with digital tools. Phillip has completed over 50 client consultancy engagements and is also a Professor of Health Informatics and has published 7 book chapters and 4 books.

Omolade Williams

Omolade Williams is founder of BLAccess, which assists educated and experienced Black professional immigrants to assimilate their culture and better integrate into Canadian society. BLAccess helps bridge any gap in cultural understanding between employers and professional immigrants. She has assisted with personal development and training for the indigenous communities in Canada. Omolade Williams is also the Windsor Chapter Leader for Canada Learning Code, a national organization that helps introduce young people to S.T.E.M.

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Claudius Thomas

Claudius Thomas is CEO of Turaco Web International Group Inc., which has developed and owns the intellectual property for a web based Contactless Entry, and Electronic Record Management software. Claudius is Chapter Leader for the Windsor Chapter of Black Boys Code Academy and is also the organizer of the local (Windsor) Black Business Owners group.

Leo Nupolu Johnson

Empowerment Squared Representative

Leo Nupolu Johnson is the Executive Director of Empowerment Squared. Leo is active in Canada, Liberia, Ghana, and South Africa. His expertise spans nonprofit management, international development, immigration and resettlement, fundraising, and financial management. He has also served as the President of the Liberian Association of Canada and as a member of several boards of directors, and is a United Nations Fellow. Leo has been the recipient of a Reverend John C Holland Award, the YMCA Peace Medal, the City of Hamilton’s World Citizenship Award and Afroglobal TV’s Visionary Award.

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PROGRAM UPDATES

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