Rise Up: A Study of 700 Black Women Entrepreneurs

Black women entrepreneurs across Canada often experience barriers to entrepreneurship in the form of systemic inequalities and unequal access to supports. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated disparities, as Black women entrepreneurs experience the compounded negative impacts of school and daycare closures, the burden of unpaid work in the home, and unequal access to basic infrastructure support. Moreover, with many of the businesses owned by Black women entrepreneurs operating in the service sector, pandemic-related closures have negatively impacted business continuity.

There is limited research on Black women entrepreneurs in Canada. The research that does exists is often based on small sample sizes, on immigrant women, or is entirely qualitative in nature. The Rise Up: A Study of 700 Black Women Entrepreneurs report adds to the literature by highlighting the unique experiences of Black women entrepreneurs in Canada. The report is based on an analysis of data on 700 Black women entrepreneurs, the largest undertaken in Canada, using a purposive sample based on the 2020–2021 Rise Up Pitch Competition applicants. 

This report aims to highlight the demographic attributes of Black women entrepreneurs in Canada, their businesses, their inspirations and motivations to start businesses, the barriers that they face when starting or scaling their businesses, and their achievements as business owner. Additionally, this report examines the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the businesses of Black women entrepreneurs. The report concludes by listing actions at the macro, meso, and micro level that can support Black women entrepreneurs in their entrepreneurial journey.

Rise Up: A Study of 700 Black Women Entrepreneurs was released by the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA), Casa Foundation for International Development and de Sedulous Women Leaders with researchers from the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH).

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