The second annual Metro Vancouver Black Business Expo was a huge success, Adebola Ige, the president of the Yoruba Social and Cultural Association of BC, said.

The Yoruba Social and Cultural Association of BC hosted the event in partnership with Surrey Board of Trade at Guildford Recreation Centre Saturday (Oct 21).

Ige was excited to see all the different types of businesses that registered this year.

The vision of the expo is to create “awareness and exposure to the many Black-owned businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs in Metro Vancouver,” in a showcase of products and services, plus networking, information sharing, financial education on loans, grants, access to sponsorship and more.

The expo is also a chance for business owners to connect with people from the community, Adeola Awopetu, chairperson of the expo planning committee, said.

Awopetu and Ige said that more needs to be done to support Black businesses. They acknowledged the support the government has provided but noted that more communication is needed.

Often times it is not until a program is over that we hear about it, Ige said.

“They need to get the information across to people of our community when they have products for that for us to support our businesses,” Awopetu said. “It’s also good for us to have as much information on how to access those products and services, those support from the government.”

The expo’s keynote speakers were Surrey-Fleetwood’s Jagrup Brar, B.C.’s Minister of State for Trade, and John Aldag, MP for Cloverdale-Langley City, along with other government and business leaders.

Brar and Aldag spoke about provincial and federal programs, respectively, that are available for small business owners.

“As I mentioned in my comments today, many black businesses still encounter systemic barriers,” Aldag said. “So we wanted to talk about programs that the federal government has to help overcome some of those barriers.”

Events like these are also a fantastic way of showcasing what is happening in our community, Aldag said.

This event is also important because we need to support our Black entrepreneurs, Anita Huberman, the president and CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade said.

“The Surrey Board of Trade, in a small way, is trying to make a difference to elevate the ecosystem of entrepreneurship,” Huberman said.

Many local politicians attended the expo to support the local Black business community. Those in attendance were John Aldag, MP for Cloverdale-Langley City and Surrey-area MLAs Garry Begg (Guildford) and Jagrup Brar (Fleetwood).

Jagrup Brar, MLA Surrey-Fleetwood and B.C’s Minister of State for Trade said that small businesses play a key role in the B.C. economy and society. 98 per cent of businesses in B.C. are small businesses (1- 99 employees).

“We want to support them,” Brar said. Also, to tell them what programs and supports are available for small business owners “to help them grow and be stronger.”

-With files from Tom Zillich


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