Black Business and Professional Association a Leader in Canada's She-Recovery

3/10, 6:59 PM (Source: Newsfile Corp)

Black Women Entrepreneurs "Rise Up" with annual Pitch Competition

Toronto, Ontario--(Newsfile Corp. - March 10, 2022) - The Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA)'s Rise Up Pitch Competition gives Black Women Entrepreneurs the opportunity to grow their businesses and vie for thousands of dollars in prizes. Money that will be infused back into Canada's economy.

This competition, which is organized by the BBPA and the Casa Foundation, is open to Black-Canadian female entrepreneurs over the age of 18 and applies to businesswomen in any industry and all stages of business. The competition kicked off with two days of workshops on March 8 and 9 and extends throughout International Women's Month with business plan development, coaching and networking. It culminates on March 31 in a live pitch by finalists in front of judges, as well as an awards celebration and $80,000 in prize money.

In 2021 and 2022, more than 1,200 Black business women entrepreneurs entered the Rise Up Pitch Competitions. Data from last year's event produced Canada's largest research study on Black women entrepreneurs.

"Hundreds of women from the Black Canadian business community have the opportunity to present their ideas and concepts, demonstrating not only how deep the talent pool runs here in Canada, but also the strength and sustainability of our economy's future," says Nadine Spencer, BBPA Acting CEO.

Aba Mortley, winner of last year's Rise Up innovation award, entered the competition to give exposure to her Cher-Mère Day Spa and beauty products. "With COVID and our spas being closed, I wanted to continue to highlight and promote the Cher-Mère brand," says Aba. "This opportunity, in addition to mentorship and community, also had the potential to provide a grant that could be put towards marketing and promotion efforts."

Aba moved to Kingston, Ontario, from Trinidad and Tobago to do her engineering degree at Queen's University and her masters and PhD in Materials in Chemical Engineering at the Royal Military College. She opened the first Cher-Mère Day Spa in 2013 in downtown Kingston, followed by a second location in 2018.

"The opportunity to support these innovative entrepreneurs is precisely why the BBPA exists," says Spencer. "The networking and community aspect of the event makes it feel more like a huge celebration of Black female entrepreneurship than a competition."

Rise Up was born out of a need to empower Black women who face structural barriers to entrepreneurship and who have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. While the pandemic hit most women hard economically - job losses cost women around the world more than $800 billion in earnings - Black women felt the impacts of the pandemic even more acutely. According to a November 2020 Statistics Canada report the Canadian unemployment rate for minority women was 10.5 per cent, compared to 6.2 per cent for white women.

"Racialized women were hardest hit by the pandemic because they are more likely to work in underpaid, hourly and non-unionized jobs," says Spencer. "The Rise Up competition encourages Black women to create quality employment opportunities for themselves through entrepreneurship."

The 2022 pitch competition is supported by the Bank of Montreal (BMO, Lighthouse, Loblaws Companies Limited, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), and the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH). Our Rise Up partners facilitate workshops and judge the final pitch presentations.

"Our research highlights challenges of anti-Black racism and barriers in the system faced by Black women entrepreneurs but it also shows that they are doubly disadvantaged because they face barriers as women as well," says Wendy Cukier, Founder and Academic Advisor of the Diversity Institute and WEKH. "However, we also know that despite significant barriers to financing, including the increased cost of borrowing, many Black women were drawn to entrepreneurship to address unmet needs in the market for products and services, to celebrate their culture and to give back to their communities. Supporting and investing in Black women entrepreneurs is essential to Canada's economic recovery. It's key to improving our social fabric and our overall prosperity."

About the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA):
Founded in 1983, the BBPA is a charitable organization whose mission is to advance Canada's Black community by facilitating the delivery of programs that support business and professional excellence, higher education, and economic development. Along with the Rise Up competition, the BBPA presents the annual Harry Jerome Awards, the National Black Business Convention (NBBPC), the BBPA National Scholarships, and workshops and programs at the BBPA Centre of Excellence.

For more information, please visit the BBPA online at, call 416-504-4097, or email


Media Contact:
Nadine Spencer
CEO, Black Business and Professional Association


To view the source version of this press release, please visit