Black entrepreneurs have faced unprecedented barriers in the marketplace worldwide for hundreds of years. Many Black entrepreneurs are less likely to receive venture capital funding and many lack the knowledge and expertise to navigate the marketplace. Economic access remains one of the biggest challenges to many Black entrepreneurs.

The COVID 19 pandemic has highlighted the racial inequities that are rife in our society. It has also illustrated that many companies did not have an emergency preparedness plan or any type of plan for that matter, that would allow them to better navigate our current reality. Current relief funding opportunities from the federal government are for the most part inaccessible for Black entrepreneurs.  Even though Black entrepreneurs face such odds, they continue to rise to the occasion by pushing forward with innovation, excellence, and creativity. These current complex times for many Black businesses have created some hardships but it has also created an environment for innovation and opportunity. Black entrepreneurs can take advantage of this moment in time to pivot and address the new needs of society. These 6 Black entrepreneurs have built successful companies in varying fields but most importantly they have been able to respond quickly in these uncertain times to capitalize on the new opportunities that COVID 19 has provided. These 6 Black entrepreneurs were prepared for the unexpected and were able to be nimble which allowed them to respond to the changing needs in real time.

Michelle Clarke, MBA, Co-Founder of The Centre for Strategic Impact

Michelle and her partner founded the Centre for Strategic Impact in 2020 just prior to the COVID 19 pandemic. Many people told her it was a mistake to start a consulting company that provides leadership, business training and capacity building activities for organizations and not for profits headed by people of color, with a specialization in working with the Black community. Both owners have over 20+ years in the sector and decided to collaborate and build synergy together to help level up Black businesses. . Michelle did not see this as a barrier but an opportunity to provide services to more organizations. The Centre for Strategic Impact saw this window of opportunity to add services around building capacity to navigate through these complex times, with specific services to address pandemic related issues on emergency preparedness plans, policies & procedures, COVID 19 assessments and building sustainability plans.

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Chris Beth Cowie, Founder & CEO of Empowered 4X

Chris-Beth is a leading social impactor, mentor, speaker, entrepreneurship instructor and business advisor. Empowered 4x, is an organization that was created for entrepreneurs of all ages to get started in their process by sowing the seed, committing to the process, acting, and reaping compounding results. Empowered 4X is a co-working space for entrepreneurs as well as a network of ongoing business support to allow for entrepreneurs to be top performers. Much of Empowered 4X’s offerings were in person so COVID 19 presented an interesting dilemma for the organization. But true to form Chris Beth used this as an opportunity and the organization pivoted to offer business related training virtually. Empowered 4X has several free webinars around how to navigate the government COVID 19 relief funding as well as virtual working groups to help rebuild ventures post COVID 19. 

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Jodi Ann Campbell, Founder & CEO of Malcom’s Choice

Jodi Ann created Malcom’s Choice to connect black owned businesses to customers. Malcolm’s Choice provides consistent visibility and a credible online presence for Black business owners. Malcolm’s Choice has a saying “Stand Out Where It Counts”. This company has done just that during the COVID 19 pandemic. During the pandemic Jodi like many were laid off. However, Jodi Ann did not let that get her down. Jodi has used this time to provide the focus and attention her business needed to unleash its true potential. Jodi was able to fine tune her mission, incorporate and monetize her business. Jodi accredits these successes to the COVID 19 pandemic.

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Alphanso Gayle, Founder and CEO of A.G. Renovations

Alphanso is a new immigrant from Jamaica. In Jamaica, Alphanso was a business owner and very well versed on business management. However, since emigrating to Canada he faced several barriers to employment which reside in systemic racism. Alphanso did not let this deter him and he began his home renovations business. During the COVID 19 pandemic business essentially grounded to a halt. However, Alphanso quickly responded to the changing demands for the market by offering much of his renovation services to be completed off site to limit contact with customers. Alphanso’s keen attention to safety and innovation has allowed his business to surge.

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Charmaine Lane, Founder and CEO of CLR Lane Consulting

Charmaine is a registered psychotherapist who provides counselling and professional development to individuals and organizations. Charmaine has over 20+ years expertise working with the Black community with an express focus on addressing Trauma and anti-Black racism. CLR Lane Consulting was shut down during the COVID 19 pandemic. Research has shown that mental health has been on the increase for many Canadians during the COVID 19 pandemic. To address this increased need Charmaine has changed her face to face appointments to virtual appointments by using a free app for clinicians.  Charmaine has also adapted her training, conferences and consultation offerings to utilize Zoom. Charmaine is embracing this new normal and highlights that although some professionals say virtual counselling is too unconventional, she finds that she has been able to obtain more clients as the sessions are now more accessible and can be done anywhere. 

These 5 Black entrepreneurs are examples of what is possible in COVID 19 and beyond. Do not get left behind, create an emergency preparedness and sustainability plan for the unexpected as we are not out of the woods yet and it is uncertain when we will be. For professional assistance with your post COVID 19 assessment, emergency preparedness and sustainability plan contact the ACBN Business crew at



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