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Small Business Week: Reflecting on the Impacts of Small Businesses

Small Business Week has a rich history in Canada that dates back several decades. Even though it originated in the US in the 1950s, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) played a significant role in establishing Small Business Week in Canada. CIBC sponsored the first Canadian Small Business Week in 1979. The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) then became a key partner in organizing and promoting the event.  

The Small Business Week was established to recognize the contributions of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to the Canadian economy and to provide them with support and resources. The celebration has become an essential part of Canada’s business landscape. 

Why are Small Businesses so important? 

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the world economy, accounting for most businesses across nearly every region. As of December 2021, Canada had 1.2 million employer businesses. Of these, 1.1 million (97.9%) were small businesses. It is estimated that there are about 70,000 black small businesses in Canada, representing about 6% of the total small businesses in Canada. Black business owners are generally immigrants, with 70.4% owned by men, while women hold 29.6%.   

AT FACE, we track, monitor, and work to increase the number of thriving small businesses, especially by black women and newcomers to Canada, because we recognize small businesses’ significant contributions to the economy. 

Reflecting on the Small Business Week this year, it’s essential to recognize the remarkable impact of small Black-owned businesses in Canada. These businesses aren’t just contributing to the economy but driving innovation, diversity, and social change.  

Five Impacts of Small Businesses in Canada 

1. Economic Growth and Job Creation –  

Small businesses are vital to Canada’s economic landscape. They make up a significant portion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employ many Canadians and stimulate the economy. 

2. Catalysts for Innovation – Small businesses are often at the forefront of innovation. They are more agile and adaptable than larger corporations, allowing them to introduce new products, services, and technologies quickly. Their enterprises span various industries, from technology and fashion to food and the arts, enriching and keeping the Canadian economy competitive and dynamic.  

3. Global Trade –  

Small businesses are increasingly reaching global markets, helping expand Canada’s export market. Canadian exports by small businesses showcase Canadian excellence on the international stage, contribute to trade diversification, and their international operations contribute to the country’s economic growth. 

4. Cultural Enrichment – Small businesses by entrepreneurs from the different cultures in Canada are instrumental in preserving and celebrating cultural heritage. They introduce Canadians to diverse cuisines, fashion, art, and music. These enterprises become cultural hubs, enhancing our understanding and appreciation of different traditions. 

5. Mentorship and Leadership – Small business owners often serve as mentors and role models for aspiring business owners, especially within the Black community. They inspire the next generation to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, breaking down barriers and creating opportunities. 

Running a business can be challenging, and external factors like access to capital, worker shortages, interest rate hikes, and inflation can add complexity to the equation. Remember that adapting to challenges is an essential part of entrepreneurship. While challenges can be daunting, they also present opportunities for growth and innovation.  

As we reflect on Small Business Week, let’s continue celebrating and supporting small businesses, especially Black-owned businesses. Their contributions to Canada’s economic, social, and cultural fabric are undeniable. By recognizing their achievements, advocating for their needs, and championing their cause, we ensure their impact continues to grow and shape our nation’s future.  

Small Black-owned businesses are making a big difference, and together, we can amplify their voices and celebrate their successes year-round. 

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Rob G.C. Sobey

Board Member

Rob G.C. Sobey is a corporate director. Mr. Sobey was the President & Chief Executive Officer of Lawton’s Drug Stores Limited from 2006 until his retirement in 2014 after 25 years with Sobeys. He serves as a director of SeaFort Capital and the Institute of Corporate Directors. Mr. Sobey is Chair of the Sobey Art Foundation, a member of the Queen’s Smith School of Business Advisory Board and serves on several foundation and not-for-profit boards. For his work as an Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Army, Mr. Sobey received a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He holds an undergraduate from Queen’s University, a Master of Business Administration from Babson College, and the ICD.D designation.

Denburk Reid

Board Member

Denburk Reid is the founder of Montreal Community Care Foundation (MCCF). Its mission is to empower youth by developing their leadership skills by using programs, workshops, and events, and by building bridges between communities. As the founder of MCCF, he beliefs that the youth hold the key to Montreal’s future and over the past eight (8) years, its programs have helped hundreds of Montreal youth stay on track, perform community services as well as set and achieve academic and life goals. The organization seeks to empower youth to become engaged citizens and leaders in their homes, schools, and communities. For the past five (5) years, MCCF celebrates and promotes community engagement across Montreal through the Montreal Community Cares Awards.

Along with his role as the founder of MCCF, Mr. Reid is the Founder of Red Rush Basketball & Red Rush Basketball Leadership. He has a passion for empowering youth and meeting them where they are lends to a successful outcome.

Abdikhier Ahmed​

Board Member

Mr. Ahmed is a recognized community leader in the non-profit sector with specializations in immigration and refugee resettlement, poverty reduction, and community empowerment. A dynamic, highly motivated individual with extensive experience in program development and delivery, providing strategic visioning and leadership. Over 10 years’ experience managing programs for non-profit organizations and working with communities and people from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds both locally as well as internationally. Fluently multi-lingual: speaks and writes English, Swahili, Somali and basic Arabic. This experience help guide Mr. Ahmed when he was in the role of Director of Policy at the Office of Canada’s Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

Mr. Ahmed is currently the Executive Director of Aurora Family Therapy Centre. Aurora is a progressive, non-profit family therapy centre that offers family therapy on a sliding scale; sees clients through services funded by Manitoba Department of Families and Department of Justice; provides community building groups for Newcomers to Canada; hosts a Psycho-Social Settlement Needs Assessment program for incoming refugees; provides summer youth programming for many newcomer communities; supports its own staff and other agencies through vicarious trauma and resilience programming; develops supportive relationships with community partners, and engages in advocacy for accessible community-based therapy services for all. Aurora is in the process of becoming a Centre of Excellence in providing cross cultural therapy from a systemic lens with a special focus on psychological trauma & recovery and community development.