The First National Market Study on Canadian Black Women Founders is Here

“We just have to do it ourselves,” Amoye Henry, co-founder of Pitch Better and former CSI WOSEN coach, says as she explains the realization that led to the FoundHers Report, the first national market study on Black women founders in the Canadian for-profit and nonprofit sectors. 

“There was a lack of disaggregated data in the market when it came to diverse entrepreneurs,” Amoye explains. “Part of what Pitch Better does is work with entrepreneurs who are creating pitch decks to pitch their businesses to either clients or investors. [Diverse women] don’t have any data on their business or their market opportunity, or their industry, period. The culturally competent data that was needed to help these investors or institutional stakeholders have a better understanding of these entrepreneurs’ challenges wasn’t there.” 

Amoye and co-founder, Adeela Carter, approached Statistics Canada and Industry Canada but were told they only collected data on women. “Black women are just considered women in Canada. Okay, that’s fair [but] there are very nuanced experiences that women of colour, Black women, and BIPOC people overall face,” Amoye emphasizes. Fast forward to the FoundHers campaign: 1545 participants surveyed across Canada, generating thousands of data points on what it’s like to be a Black woman founder in Canada. Read the report here and check out their interactive dashboard: 

The Findings 

At a glance:

  • 59% of Black women entrepreneurs earn a bachelor’s degree or higher
  • 33% of Black women founders are familiar with social financing
  • 86% of Black women NPO founders indicated they need less than $250,000 in funding to grow their organizations
  • 42% of NPO founders feel ready to take on investment capital
  • 65% reported that they have not secured funding, or have secured less than 50K in external funding
  • 53% have generated less than 50K; and 51% profited less than 25K in the past 12 months
  • 41% of the respondents reported that the global pandemic has significantly impacted their revenue and/or profit

What did Amoye find most surprising? 

“59% of Black women entrepreneurs have a bachelor degree or higher,” Amoye emphasizes. “That was shocking because a lot of social and pop culture references would indicate that black women are not that educated or BIPOC people don’t have access to information. […] They’re a highly educated group but they don’t have the opportunities and the networks. That was very clear.” 

In order to create a network, you need to know who else is out there. The FoundHers research team created an interactive dashboard mapping many of the Black women-owned and -led organizations from the study. Displayed as a map of Canada, the dashboard enables investors, customers, and fellow founders to find organizations they want to support through profiles on the organizations’ profit structure, type of industry, location, demographics, fundraising, and more. Take a look for yourself! 

It’s about visibility. “Black women make incredible contributions to the economy,” Amoye says. “56% of Black women entrepreneurs are mothers. We’re bearing the leaders of tomorrow, making vast contributions to society, and doing it with two strikes against us: being Black and being women. So the fact that you’ll see women who have success stories, like Viviane King, who has a seven figure haircare business, or you have Delores Lawrence, who owns a one hundred staff healthcare agency…there’s so much greatness coming out of our communities. They just need the investment and tools to scale.”

Our 2019/2020 Annual Report

Yep, we know, after the maelstrom of 2020 it’s hard to recall anything that occurred before the pandemic! But, of course, things did happen and there are stories to be shared, so without further ado please dig in to our 2019/20 Annual Report.

2019/20 annual report cover

Right now, in the early months of 2021, our story is still unfolding: despite Covid-19, we’ve made great progress in our journey towards the Next Economy. We’ve taken time to solidify our programming approach and honed into our core areas of focus. We’ve taken on Labs and Challenges, and even worked with the City of Toronto on a Homelessness and Hygiene lab in the height of the pandemic.

We’re investing even more in the success of early stage enterprises that are developing solutions to the world’s biggest problems. These are the innovators that call CSI home; whether they’re ventures in one of our accelerator programs, participants in Social Enterprise 101, or members with or without office space (oh yeah, you can be a CSI member without office space – it’s true), they’re part of a community of changemakers who are working on the Next Economy.

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How shared platforms help grassroots and community-based initiatives grow

Printer, paper cutter, single desks in front of a window, plants, and microwave in the fourth floor lounge in CSI Spadina.

Last year, as we navigated the pandemic, communities came together to take care of one another. They formed grassroots and community-led initiatives, like neighbourhood pods and mutual aid groups. This year, as we continue on a path of recovery, we must ask how we can support these initiatives as they grow and expand their impact.

One solution is shared platforms. Traditionally, organizations who want to grow will incorporate and/or register as a charity. However, incorporation also brings on additional administrative and governance responsibilities, adding to an already-full plate.

In a shared platform model, another organization provides the administrative and governance infrastructure. This frees up time for the newer initiative’s leaders to develop a solid foundation, build, and grow.

The Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN) describes it as “an alternative […] that is more accessible, and is more time- and cost effective.”

In Shared Platforms: An Introduction, the ONN outlines why the shared platform model is a critical tool for pandemic recovery:

Almost every nonprofit got started when a community identified a need and did something about it. But it has become harder to start, operate and sustain an organization over time. This is why it is so important for established nonprofits and charities to support emerging grassroots projects through shared platforms. Some of these projects will grow into new organizations, while others will remain small and project-based. All will enrich our communities and allow for innovation and emergence of new ideas and new ways of doing things in our communities.

At CSI, we understand the importance of shared resources. We were built — quite literally — on shared supports for social enterprises, nonprofits, and innovators. We offer shared workspace, to lower the cost of rent; our buildings have shared printing and fax services, to lower the cost of equipment.

We took it one step further when we incubated the Ontario Nonprofit Network (ONN). We provided insurance, bookkeeping, leadership, accounting, management, and a board of directors. Ultimately, we were responsible for the ONN’s success. This allowed the ONN leadership to figure out what worked (and what didn’t), build a strong foundation, and grow their network. After spending seven years at CSI, they got to a place where they were able to incorporate.

Recently, we built a virtual shared space for social innovators: The Common Platform. It’s a hub for ideas, opportunities, events, and conversations. It’s a place where people who want to make a positive impact can find what they need to succeed. And since we can’t meet, ideate, and innovate in person right now, we hope you’ll join us online!

How A Global Pandemic Impacted Our Oceans

Pipes on a white brick wall

Picture of woman holding a large starfish and smiling

Impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic have been far reaching, touching industries and issues as diverse and complex as tourism, education, and mental health. And now, we know that COVID-19 is also impacting our oceans.

CSI member Ocean Wise have been examining COVID-19’s impact on the ocean.

In COVID-19: Waves of change – How a global pandemic impacted our oceans, they examine how public health restrictions have resulted in lost ocean research opportunities, reductions or cancellation of volunteer-based ocean conservation activities, as well as shifts in seafood related industries.

The immensity of global actions to slow the spread of COVID-19 demonstrates that we can make large changes to better care for our oceans. What we do to restart after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted will define a new ‘normal’ for our oceans. We have an opportunity to prioritize ocean health, to invest in research to improve our knowledge, re-evaluate our waste production, and choose sustainable seafood in support of healthy ocean.

What can you do?

  • Help contribute to monitoring wildlife by downloading the WhaleReport app for iOS or Android.
  • Participate in community environmental and citizen science groups.
  • Consider a safe shoreline cleanup, either solo, household or small team.
  • Reduce waste and consider taking the Ocean Wise plastic pledge.
  • Look for the fish symbol and choose to buy sustainable Ocean Wise recommended seafood.
  • Support local and seasonal seafood.
  • Support Ocean Wise Seafood partners near you.

What the government can do:

  • Fund and support marine environmental research and consider it vital to our welfare and economy.
  • Support the creation of ocean management plans and networks of Marine Protected Areas to protect habitats and species, with the goal of healthy oceans.
  • Support programs for reduced waste.
  • Incentivize sustainable fishing methods.
  • Phase out fishing methods that are damaging to the environment or have high by-catch

Do you have a climate or water technology solution that will positively impact communities and ecosystems across Canada? Our six month Earth Tech accelerator is accepting donations until November 8.

Help shape the next Vital Signs report!

Every year, Toronto Foundation puts out a Vital Signs Report, compiled from current statistics and studies, serving as an ongoing consolidated snapshot of the trends and issues affecting quality of life in our city.

For 2019, we pulled out the highlights of each section of the report for a 10-part blog series:

The Foundation has has just launched a survey to inform the next Vital Signs Report, which will be focused on the impacts of COVID.

The survey should take 10 to 15 minutes to complete. It is intended for staff, volunteers, and board members at charities and nonprofits with substantial operations in Toronto. The survey is open to both organizations that are currently operating and those that have shut down.

These reports are widely read by policymakers, organizations, and philanthropists. The goal is to highlight areas and gaps to better inform these stakeholders.

COVID’s impact on Canadian small business

If your physically-distant walks are taking you down any downtown streets, you are probably seeing a lot of closed-up storefronts. It is alarming how many of the businesses we love may not be around to welcome us back after COVID-19.

Smallbusinessincrisis.ca was created by a group of volunteers in collaboration with a grassroots coalition of small businesses. They have created an interactive map to track the status of threatened small businesses across Canada.

We have zoomed in on the to create this screencap of the downtown Toronto core, you can click through to get more detail about what has already closed, what is very likely to close, and what is somewhat likely to close:

Looking at the numbers for the whole country, the impact of COVID-19 will be severe. So far, this is what has been reported to the site:

  • 74 businesses permanently closed (671 impacted)
  • 494 businesses very likely to close (4,356 impacted)
  • 427 businesses somewhat likely to close (4,850 impacted)

We know the numbers are likely much higher. So far, 7.5 million workers across the country have applied for the Canada Emergency Response benefit, and thousands of employers have applied for Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy support.

The federal government has also announced a 75% commercial rent support. But this will only happen if the Provinces can come together to get it done. You can send a message to your elected provincial representatives to help make that happen.

And if you are a small business owner whose business has already closed, or is likely to close soon without further supports, please fill out this survey to be added to the map.

 

Toronto Vital Signs Report – Issue Ten: Safety

Toronto Foundation has just released Vital Signs Report 2019: Growing Pains and Narrow Gains. This report provides a consolidated snapshot of the trends and issues affecting the quality of life in our city and each of the interconnected issue areas is critical to the wellbeing of Toronto and its residents.

Vital Signs examines ten issue areas. We have been exploring highlights of each of these sections. The final issue is Safety.

A recent medical study shows living in high-crime neighbourhoods does not just affect psychological well-being or those directly who are victimized, but also increases the risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.

  • After a decade of decreasing crime rates, major crimes have been increasing in Toronto and the rest of Canada, though it is still far lower than 15 years ago.
  • The 2018 murder rate was unprecedentedly high, even after accounting for mass-murder events.
  • Crime is not evenly distributed in the city and is disproportionately felt by those in disadvantaged communities, those with lower income, and younger people.
  • Confidence in police is high overall, but is extremely low among the Black community and certain other racialized populations.
  • Many are not confident they will be able to receive legal support should they need it, including those with low incomes and newcomers.

Access to justice is CSI member Caryma Sa’d‘s raison d’être. A major component of her work involves advocacy with respect to human rights and social justice issues. She works closely with cannabis activists, educators, and entrepreneurs, as well as individual patients and recreational consumers. Her perspective on the intersection of law, politics, and racism underlying cannabis prohibition makes her a strong proponent of legalization and amnesty.

Toronto Vital Signs Report – Issue eight: Health and wellness

A colourful illusration of pink and purple silhouettes showing the contents of their brains: flowers and puzzles and polkadots

Toronto Foundation has just released Vital Signs Report 2019: Growing Pains and Narrow Gains. This report provides a consolidated snapshot of the trends and issues affecting the quality of life in our city and each of the interconnected issue areas is critical to the wellbeing of Toronto and its residents.

Vital Signs examines ten issue areas. We are going to explore highlights of each of these sections. Issue Eight is Health and Wellness.

Toronto is a physically healthy city, outscoring the rest of the province and country on many indicators of health. Mental well-being is also a critical aspect of quality of life, but in some ways Toronto is not the happiest place — the city has growing mental health challenges.

  • Toronto is physically healthier than the rest of the country and province, and many physical health metrics have been improving over time.
  • Hospitalized strokes, heart attacks, and avoidable deaths have all been decreasing significantly over the last decade.
  • Despite strong physical health, Toronto is by several measures the least happy city in the country, with our young people the least happy of all.
  • Emergency room visits for mental health are increasing extremely rapidly among young adults, as are hospitalizations for eating disorders.
  • Opioid deaths and alcohol poisonings are also increasing rapidly.
  • Lower income is broadly associated with worse health outcomes across most major indicators available in this chapter.

If you are an Ontario resident dealing with everyday stressors or major life events, Big White Wall is an online mental health and well-being service offering self-help programs, creative outlets, and a community that cares. Freely express your thoughts and feelings with unique creative outlets. Interact with a supportive community where everyone’s voice counts. Learn from smart programs and useful resources that help you understand and feel more confident. Feel secure in an anonymous space where your identity is completely private.

Toronto Vital Signs Report – Issue Seven: Civic Engagement and Belonging

A chalkboard at the Centre for Social Innovation advertising Salad Club and Bagel Bonding

Toronto Foundation has just released Vital Signs Report 2019: Growing Pains and Narrow Gains. This report provides a consolidated snapshot of the trends and issues affecting the quality of life in our city and each of the interconnected issue areas is critical to the wellbeing of Toronto and its residents.

Vital Signs examines ten issue areas. We are going to explore highlights of each of these sections. Issue Seven is Civic Engagement and Belonging.

Social capital is the essential “lubricant that makes it possible for societies to function.” Overall, sense of belonging has improved in the city, and most people have close friends and feel like they can trust their neighbours.

  • Sense of belonging has been improving over time in Toronto, though it is far lower among younger people
  • Most people feel connected to friends and family, and they feel like they have people to rely on when needed.
  • Low-income residents in Toronto are far more likely to be socially isolated than higher-income residents, while newcomers often do not have anyone to rely on in an emergency.
  • Donor rates and donations as a percentage of income are falling in Toronto since the financial crash, while high-income donors give less of their income to charities than low-income donors.
  • Volunteering hours are declining in Toronto, while volunteer rates remain steady.
  • Most residents believe that working together can make a difference in their community, and this is higher in Toronto’s neighbourhood improvement areas.

The Centre for Social Innovation was created to give people a sense of belonging. If you are looking for a community, we have built one of the best that there is. Since 2004, we have become the home-base for thousands of smart, warm, and principled people. Do you want to work with others to put people and planet first? We’d love to meet you! Here are four ways to connect with us.

Toronto Vital Signs Report – Issue Six: Getting Around

A TTC street car

Toronto Foundation has just released Vital Signs Report 2019: Growing Pains and Narrow Gains. This report provides a consolidated snapshot of the trends and issues affecting the quality of life in our city and each of the interconnected issue areas is critical to the wellbeing of Toronto and its residents.

Vital Signs examines ten issue areas. We are going to explore highlights of each of these sections. Issue Six is Getting Around.

Major transit investments are both proposed and under development, but they will take up to a decade or more to complete. The TTC remains proportionally one of the least subsidized transit systems, while many people with a low income in Toronto continue to face decreased access and the ability to afford transit.

  • Toronto has the longest commutes of any major city in the country, and possibly North America, with public transit users having most of the most extreme commutes.
  • Toronto has the highest public transit ridership and commuter share in North America.
  • Transit costs have been growing at twice the rate of inflation for the last 20 years, a significant challenge for the low-income families who disproportionately rely on it to get around.
  • Toronto has the lowest public subsidies for rides of any major city in North America, and unlike most jurisdictions has no guaranteed revenue streams.
  • Recent city initiatives such as two-hour transfers on the TTC and discounted fares for those on welfare and disability have improved transit affordability for some, but discounted fares have yet to be rolled out to other low-income groups.
  • Active transportation is growing, with more people walking and cycling to work, but most improvements come from those who work within five kilometres of the city’s core.

CSI members TTCriders is a grassroots transit advocacy organization that gives Torontonians who use the TTC a voice. It emerged as a response to the tens of thousands of transit users who said that they want better transit in Toronto.