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Black Business Can looks to ‘shatter disparity’ by supporting Black-owned businesses

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Coinciding with the beginning of Black History Month in Canada, Black Business Can is launching its annual 28-day challenge to support Black-owned businesses in Windsor-Essex.

“The goal is to really be a part of actively shattering disparity among the Black entrepreneurs. And creating an impact locally, regionally, provincially and federally,” says co-founder Maxine Shelton.

To date, Shelton says more than 130 businesses have joined Black Business Can — a directory that points people to minority-owned businesses in Windsor-Essex, with growing interest outside the region.

Among the local businesses taking part is Country Rose Preserves.

“This business is a way for me to honour my mother’s legacy,” says Rose Grayer-Howell, the owner of the preserve shop.

Grayer-Howell grew up in Harrow, Ont. Next door to Canada’s last remaining segregated school. She’s also has family ties to the Underground Railroad.

She says her mother taught her everything she knows about the canning trade, preserving jams and pickles. She’s now part of the Black Business Can network.

“I’m just so passionate about what I do and I hope that I can spread some love and encourage some young entrepreneurs to get started,” Grayer-Howell says.

The goal of the 28-day challenge is for residents to buy products and services from Black-owned businesses each day in February, hopeful the effort can sustain long-term.

“This is to set a precedent and be mindful about their purchases year-round and spreading their wealth and their finances amongst a community of diverse people,” says Shelton.

Linda McCurdy, the owner of McCurdy Law and also Northstar Cheer Incorporated also joined the program.

“We’ve been here for 16 years people don’t even know we’re a Black-owned business, cause we don’t have a sign out front saying we’re a Black-owned business,” says McCurdy.

That’s why she feels the directory and the challenge are so important to bind the community together.

“If people really want to patronize a Black-owned business in their community then that’s a way for them to know who we are,” McCurdy says. “Because basically until we form a strong community, we can’t make a difference as a community.”

Shelton says the program saw great success last year, with some businesses noting a three-fold increase in traffic and sales.

She hopes people will make year two even bigger by engaging through social media, sharing photos of your purchase and including the hashtag: “BlackBusinessCan”

For the full directory listing of Black History Month events, local businesses, organizations, and Black Historical sites led by Black, African, and Caribbean entrepreneurs, please visit blackbusinessontario.ca.

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