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#MeetTheFounder: Nerissa Allen, Black Business Association of BC

In honour of Black History Month, Yelp is proud to celebrate and spotlight incredible local Black-owned businesses. Yelp Vancouver sat down with Nerissa Allen, founder and president of Black Business Association of BC, an organization dedicated to supporting Black entrepreneurs and businesses throughout BC and Canada. Read on to learn more.

First off, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and chat with us! You have built this amazing organization and community, can you tell us more about your inspiration behind creating the Black Business Association of BC?

In August 2019, we started as a simple community group; sharing and highlighting businesses on Instagram. As an entrepreneur myself, I know the challenges and gaps in our ecosystem, and wanted to find a way to put more structure around the work that we had been doing. I also wanted to create a space where entrepreneurs and business owners could access tools, training, and opportunities to network both inside and outside of our community. I thought about the things that would have made my life easier when I was starting out, and put those pieces into place to begin closing the gap.

What is the primary mission of BBABC? 

To support Black entrepreneurs and businesses in Canada through education, business development, and mentorship. We achieve these goals through workshops, training, developmental tools, networking, and opportunities for government engagement.

In the past year, what has been your biggest learning and how has that affected your organization?

Covid-19 has required us to put a laser focus on navigating crisis and pivoting during crisis. We have taken this opportunity to deliver workshops to our members to help support them during this time, and we are working on longer term resources and strategies for developing risk assessment training and tools for our members.

How much has the momentum of the Black Lives Matter movement impacted BBABC? How are you thinking about the future of the organization?

The BLM movement has helped shine a light on the ongoing challenges that the Black community has faced for many years. As we look forward, our association will be focused on increasing our support to the community and forging new alliances to expand our reach in the spaces of supplier diversity and market access, which is crucial for sustained viability of successful business.

We are dedicating this month to celebrating some of the amazing Black-owned businesses in Vancouver. Do you have any favourite businesses that you want to shout-out?

Absolutely! I would love for you to check out:

Check out the Black Business Association of BC and follow them on social media for more updates and resources to aid in supporting local Black-owned businesses.