Blackowned905, Future Black Female Join Forces To Create Space For Black Owned Business In Downtown St. Catharines

“Marketplace Bootcamp” will give black owned businesses a storefront in the Corbloc on King Street

By Abby Green

Tue., Jan. 24, 20233 min. read

While representation has come a long way, we still have a long way to go, especially in the business space.

That’s why Future Black Female and Blackowned905, both based out of downtown St. Catharines, have come together to create an entrepreneurship program to help Black-owned businesses get on their feet.

Called “Marketplace Bootcamp,” the program is looking for Black-woman-owned businesses in Niagara, run by someone from 18 to 25 years old.

The program will require being able to commit 25 to 45 hours a week, including Saturdays.

Through their program, a Black-owned business that’s already ready to go would be given a storefront inside of the Corbloc on King Street.

“We’re asking people to send their business plans. Tell us what their business is, what stage they’re at. We want people who are ready to be in store,” said Tapo Chimbganda, executive director of Future Black Female.

Chimbganda said the winning business will get to go through training in running a business, marketing, etc., and will get to keep all the money they make in the store.

The vendors who operate the storefront will change out throughout the program, Chimbganda said, providing opportunities for other businesses.

The hope, she said, is when they’re done their turn, the business is ready to branch out and find their own space.

Chimbganda and Blackowned905 founder Natasha Bell said they started this program to help improve business diversity in St. Catharines.

“One of the things that we want is for black businesses to thrive in areas where they have been absent,” said Chimbganda, adding that Black people often aren’t catered to as customers either. “We’re often not the customer that businesses think of in terms of their planning, their marketing, their advertising. So having Black businesses means that they will think about us as customers. And so more products that we use that appeal to us that are relevant to us on the market.”

In conversations with other business associations and service providers, Chimbganda said she is often told that Niagara is predominantly white.

“But we’re here,” she said. “So where are we going for services? And at the same time, where are we shopping for the things that we need? … We’re being excluded and marginalized in a lot of ways, including in business, because, again, we’re not being thought of as the customer. We’re not thought of as the service user. And so because of that, and that attitude, that it’s predominantly white, we’re being excluded and sometimes in very active ways.”

Part of the problem when it comes to getting Black people into business spaces, Chimbganda said, is that the opportunities are not presented to them in spaces where they are at, and not in ways that reach them.

“When we look at it, a lot of the grants and programs aren’t catering to Black businesses,” she said “When they are, it’s very, very limited resources and it’s just a one size fits all type thing because of the limited resources. So we came up with this program because we want them to get the experiential learning, but we also want them to get the support that is culturally relevant and responsive to them as Black business owners in that region.”


Bell, who grew up in St. Catharines, said she’s used to being the only Black girl in different settings. She said it is getting better, but hopes more organizations expand.

With the store location being downtown, Bell said it’ll be great exposure for the winning businesses.

“It’s downtown. Once people hear about it, I think a lot of people will come through, they will support it,” she said.

For more information on the program, visit Blackowned905 on social media, or email

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