Black entrepreneurs in Hamilton say that despite the cultural spotlight for Black History Month, sales aren’t necessarily taking centre stage.
Black History Month is in full swing, but whether it has a tangible impact on commerce is less clear.
February hasn’t brought increased foot traffic to the eclectic aisles of Reloved Boutique in central Hamilton, but co-owner Lateisha Nahimana says the month can be helpful for marketing.
“If someone is not aware of a business and it so happens to be a Black-owned business that’s promoted within the month of February and catches someone’s eye or sparks their attention, then they are now aware and it’s kind of done its part.” said Nahimana.
Over in the east-end, preparations for a Black entrepreneurship networking event are underway at Island Queens. The new restaurant is serving up a slice of the Caribbean to Hamiltonians.
READ MORE: Black History Month celebrations begin in Hamilton
Despite the awareness that Black History Month brings, it’s business as usual.
“When it comes to sales, I don’t believe that Black History Month has a direct effect on our business.” says owner Keysha Gordon.
While there have been significant improvements in barriers Black businesses face, Gordon says some challenges persist, like access to capital.
“The first barrier that comes to the top of my head is funding. Systemically there’s a lot of maybe stereotypes could be the best word or stigma.”
Data from a survey of business conducted by non-profit group BLK Owned Hamilton found that 75 per cent have never received funding.
WATCH MORE: Deadline for CEBA repayments hits as business groups warn of closures
“What we’re hearing is that there are still barriers around finances, around marketing, and around sales for our black businesses,” says Ashleigh Montague, Executive Director of BLK Owned Hamilton.
Montague and her sisters launched the initiative that showcases Black businesses across the Greater Hamilton Area in 2020 after the murder of George Floyd.
“Our money is one of the number one ways of showing ally-ship and support and community.” affirms Montague.
BLK Owned is hosting several markets throughout the month where entrepreneurs will be showcasing their products with the first set for Feb. 18.
It’s an opportunity to take action and support Black communities during a month of celebrating achievements.