Food In Canada

Black-owned nonprofit Foodpreneur Lab disrupts the food ecosystem with free access to their support paths for Black food entrepreneurs

By Food in Canada staff   

Business Operations Black food entrepreneurs Black-owned Editor pick Foodpreneur Lab

Foodpreneur Lab is a Black woman-founded and led Canadian nonprofit that is disrupting the food ecosystem by addressing systemic barriers. Their advisor-led Start and Scale Support Paths provide free access for Black food entrepreneurs to focus on their unique business goals. With 50 participants already enrolled with Foodpreneur Lab since their first cohort launch in November 2021, applications for cohort two are now open on until February 28, 2022, at 11:59 pm ET. This project is funded by the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. Applicants from Ottawa, Hamilton, Halton, Niagara, Simcoe, Wellington, Frontenac, Dufferin, Prescott and Russell, Stormont, Renfrew, Lanark, Leeds & Grenville, Dundas & Glengarry will be given priority. Applicants from the Greater Toronto Area will also be accepted.

Founded in 2019, Foodpreneur Lab is made up of diverse entrepreneurs and experts in the food sector. The team is led by Janice Bartley, who uses her 30 years of experience in food and entrepreneurship to open doors that have historically been closed to underserved communities.

“It is through food that communities connect and foster a sense of belonging,” says Bartley. “We believe that shared experiences provided by our support paths will help Black food entrepreneurs thrive and conduct business that honours their unique lens.”

Their nine-month advisor-led Start and Scale Support Paths include one-on-one individualized support, hands-on experience in commercial production space, and time to complete the required certifications to operate (Food Handlers’, HACCP, etc.). The result will be that by December 2024, 200 Black food entrepreneurs will have received the support and knowledge needed to successfully run their businesses. While the project has a focus on Ontario, they have a strong national mandate to improve support for food entrepreneurs at every touchpoint.

“The network, the experience, and the results have all been amazing,” says Start Support Path participant Robert Robinson of Robinson Sauces. “It’s helped me understand and map out success for my business and connecting me with the right people.”

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