A non-profit, charitable organization for Black business owners in Canada reached out to Nunavut’s Black business community for the first time in Iqaluit on Dec. 3. at the Aqsarniit Hotel.
The Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA), an Ontario-based national organization, came North to showcase it’s Business Advisory Implementation Development Services program, designed to offer support to Black business owners with marketing, staffing and tax law.
Nadine Spencer, CEO of the BBPA, said Nunavut’s relative isolation and low population has previously hindered networking opportunities between Black business owners.
“They feel a little isolated,” she said, “it’s one of the things we want to be seen. We want to make sure we bridge that gap.”
The owners of one of Iqaluit’s Black-owned businesses, the Nunavut Wellness Spa were excited to have this opportunity to connect with the BBPA.
“It’s exciting they took the initiative to come up and see what they have to offer,” said Patience Sibanda, one of two owners of the Nunavut Wellness Spa in Iqaluit, alongside Tatenda Chimhanda.
Chimhanda noted many Black-owned businesses in the territory are smaller enterprises and there aren’t many Black-owned businesses with a large presence in the territory.
“Nunavut being the land of Inuit, there is a lot of support being given to Inuit businesses which is very essential,” Chimhanda said, noting that the two have received a warm reception to their business, even teaming up with the Government of Nunavut and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association on some projects.
While the isolation is one of the things which makes the situation different for Black-owned businesses in Nunavut, one of the similarities with the south, Spencer noted, is the lack of access to capital.
“Whether you’re in Nunavut or Ontario, or Halifax or Winnipeg, it’s the lack of access to capital, lack of access to networking, lack of resources,” said Spencer.
Sibanda and Chimhanda first got the idea to start a spa in Iqaluit when they saw a gap in wellness services in the territorial capital.
“In the past we’ve had wellness practitioners, but we’ve had a vision to build almost a one-stop shop for people to get their aesthetics, acupuncture under one roof,” said Sibanda.
“Our business being Black-owned has been welcomed in Nunavut, in Iqaluit and we really do appreciate that we’ve been welcomed to this place and we’re able to provide those services to everyone and especially Inuit,” said Chimhanda.