September 14, 2020
We The Invisible
“Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance. Equality is being on the party planning committee.”- Verna Myers
Canada is known for many things, Hockey, maple syrup, multiculturalism, and Justin Trudeau but it should be known for entrepreneurship. Canada has produced several outstanding individuals that have relied on their drive, intelligence, and resilience to achieve entrepreneurial success. However, a quick search of Canada’s top female entrepreneurs on your favourite search engine will quickly demonstrate why Canada isn’t on the “Entrepreneurial dance floor.” At the onset of writing this piece, my goal was to illustrate the importance of celebrating and supporting entrepreneurship in diverse communities. I had set aside all these quirky catchphrases and my favourite “Scarborough slang,” I was ready to create what could only be described as a blog masterpiece. Unfortunately, as I began to research and connect with Entrepreneurs who identified as BIPOC I realized just how important this conversation is. Moreover, I wondered why in a country celebrated for its diversity, BIPOC were rendered invisible in the realm of entrepreneurship?
All about the Borden’s Baby
The wealth gap has lead to generational wealth inequalities that continue to hinder people of colour. This is a topic that has been at the forefront of many political debates south of our borders but the North is no stranger to the gap. BIPOC Canadians do not have the same access to investments and variable sources of wealth as non-racialized people. There is limited data available examining Canada’s wealth according to race, but Statistics Canada’s 2016 census provided some details on income linked to net wealth. In this instance, net wealth was defined specifically as capital gains and income from investments. The analysis of this report highlighted a discrepancy between racialized Canadians and non-racialized or white Canadians. Unfortunately, this data did not include Indigenous Peoples. According to the report:
- 8% Canadians over 15 years of age reported some capital gains in 2015, compared to about 12 % non-racialized people
- With racialized Canadians receiving, on average, $10,828. Limiting gains to 29% below the average gains for white Canadians
- A gap also exists within investments from real estate holding and dividends from stocks. Where $7,774 was the average amount earned for racialized people and $11,428 for their white counterparts.
- Racialized women earn 59 cents for every dollar earned by non-racialized men and racialized women earned 87 cents for every dollar earned by white women
“When we broaden the lens to look at wealth, rather than just looking at income, it can give us a bigger picture of what the cumulative impact of racism is, both over an individual’s lifespan, but also potentially from one generation to the next,” said Shiela Block. Sheila is a senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. She also co-authored the report which shines a new multifaceted light on the matter of income inequality in Canada.
Sheila Block, a senior economist at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives who co-authored the report, said looking at disparities in wealth, in addition to aspects of the labor market, sheds new and multifaceted light on the issue of income inequality in Canada.
Activism in Entrepreneurship
The gaps are not the only reason we should be supporting local entrepreneurs of colour, it’s the far-reaching impact they have. Entrepreneurship is an opportunity to uplift, encourage dialogue, and fight stereotypes. What awe-inspiring side effect? Think about it for a moment. Your contribution to a BIPOC Entrepreneur can have a social impact, encouraging others to pursue entrepreneurship and diverting capital into communities of colour. Take for instance the Entrepreneurial journey of Larissa Crawford. She is a Métis-Jamaican woman from Calgary who has really inspired me. Through her fundraiser at age 16 she was able to start a library at Let Us Shine Academy in Ghana and contribute to the Kainai Reserve Public Library in her home province. Now in her twenties, she applies anti-racism and Indigenous research to renewable energy policy and program development in Canada. All while advocating for Indigenous leadership and anti-racism in the global energy sector.
Many BIPOC entrepreneurs give back to underserved communities. Witnessing, experiencing, or battling with the interlocking systems of oppression can have a huge impact on one’s lived experience. The opportunity to pay it forward is a privilege many of us seek. For BIPOC entrepreneurs like me, personal growth and success provide an opportunity to influence the Canadian landscape on many levels. Whether providing services, products, charity, or education, we the invisible are also taking responsibility for the betterment of the physical and social landscape that we call home. So the next time you are looking to make a purchase I implore you to support a local entrepreneur. Help generates a landscape that acknowledges diversity and appreciates it enough to contribute to its legacy.