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Sheridan and the Afro-Caribbean Business Network partner on research to support Black entrepreneurs

Jan 14, 2021
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A new research partnership between Sheridan’s Pilon School of Business (PSB) and the Afro-Caribbean Business Network (ACBN) will aim to identify the needs of Black entrepreneurs and develop meaningful recommendations and resources to help build their business capacity. Black entrepreneurs have faced unprecedented barriers in the marketplace for decades. Access to funding and economic stability are some of the biggest challenges faced, which have been heightened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two-year collaborative research project will include data collection led by a Sheridan student researcher from the PSB, the development of a best practices guide for business owners and the creation of training curriculum and a mentoring program.

“As a community we face invisibility in currently available data. Race-based data has not been historically collected, therefore, the actual reality that many entrepreneurs face in the Black community is not adequately reflected," says Ryan Knight, ACBN founder, Sheridan Business grad and owner of the Brampton-based social enterprise Detailing Knights. “We are so excited to have the opportunity to collaborate with Sheridan on this research as it will shine a light on Black business and entrepreneurship.”

Founded in 2018, the ACBN works to unify and educate Black entrepreneurs in its network of more than 3000 businesses. It’s cultivated a community for Black business owners where they can cross-promote their products and services to build their ventures and participate in relevant business and personal growth workshops. The Sheridan-ACBN research project won’t be the first time the two organizations have collaborated. The ACBN is a past client of EDGE – Sheridan’s hub for entrepreneurship with headquarters in Mississauga, Ontario. Another of ACBN’s members, Shauna-Kay Jones, founder and director of Motify Learn, is also a Sheridan grad.

A commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion across operational and strategic activities, including research, is a Sheridan priority, formalized in its Strategic Plan – Sheridan 2024: Galvanizing Education for a Complex World. “Collaborating with our internal stakeholders, industry and community partners on meaningful, socially-informed research with real-world implications benefits everyone involved. We’re excited for the launch of this project as it will contribute significantly to students’ learning and the outcome will help to inform and support Black entrepreneurship in our community,” says Dr. Anne-Liisa Longmore, Dean of PSB and project supporter.

“We’re thrilled that the Pilon School of Business and the ACBN are engaging in research that will support Black entrepreneurs with supports that directly relate to their challenges and needs,” says Dr. Brian Chama, who is overseeing the project, bringing to it his decades of business experience and time as professor and coordinator in Sheridan’s International Business Management program. “This is a tremendous opportunity for Sheridan to showcase its expertise in research, business and entrepreneurship.”

In year one of the partnership, an advisory committee that includes diverse voices from intersectional communities will be struck. Dr. Chama along with Dr. Shady Hana, Human Resources Professor, Dr. Bamadev Paudel, Professor of Economics, Naira Ahmed, a Professor of Digital Creative Design, Nicola Harris, ACBN Lead Community Researcher and PhD candidate in Organizational Leadership, and Community Researcher Michelle Clarke, MSW, will collectively provide strategic direction and advice and assist in decision making to help guide the research process and ensure objectives are met.

Research findings and complimentary resources developed will not only support the ACBN’s mandate but yield valuable data to help inform future postsecondary curriculum planning for Black entrepreneurs.

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