Williamson Dulcé: We want all Black businesses in Quebec to come together and know each other…
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
With the goal of ultimately uniting and educating black business owners through the power of technology and give them a tool that will help them improve their business reach and profitability, the non-profit organisation, Orijin Village has launched UP| Unite and Prosper.
Up is a technology platform to equip entrepreneurs from Black communities with new solutions and support innovative projects that have a strong social impact and feature sustainable business models.
Stéphanie Jecrois, Carla Beauvais, and Williamson Dulcé are the driving forces behind the UP platform and they believe that it is imperative that allow small and medium-sized businesses run by Black communities run by Black communities be allowed to fully participate in the recovery of Quebec’s economy especially during the current global pandemic.
Dulce, who describes himself as a serial entrepreneur and community advocate, explains that Orijin Village as an organisation fights to alleviate disparaging situations in the community and this is how they formulated UP| Unite and Prosper.
“ We want all Black businesses in Quebec to come together and know each other,” he explains to the CONTACT.
He notes that people of African origin have a high graduation rate in Quebec, but still have an unemployment and poverty rate generally higher than the average of the population.
They also have a lack of access to finance and are underrepresented in the tech industry.
“The UP platform will unite Black businesses with a wide variety of consumers including Black consumers,” he says.
He adds that although just in its initial stages, the platform is receiving a lot of interest, from across Canada.
“People from Vancouver have reached out because they are also interested in recreating a similar platform.
“UP will serve as a directory for black businesses, organizations, services and goods providers, aiming to unite Black communities during this pandemic,” Carla Beauvais adds.
Social engagements are right up Beauvais’ alley, as a high profile impresario and media personality. She is the co-ordinator of an annual Round-Table For Black History Month and the Gala Dynastie, which recognizes Blacks in Quebec for their contributions and achievements and a columnist for Journal Métro.
Beauvais is passionate about empowering the movers and shakers in the Black community and hopes that UP takes flight.
As part owner of Cajou Cuisine,( a company which provides bi-monthly family cooking kits, featuring recipes from different countries as well as educational exercises for kids in subjects including math, geography and culture,) she has felt the effects of the lockdown first-hand.
Jecrois will be lending her expertise as a technology aficionado. She was nominated by the U.S. Consulate for a prestigious U.S. government sponsored exchange program called the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) on the topic of Women in Trade and Entrepreneurship.
She was a part of the Technovation Challenge, a program designed to teach young girls how to develop a business plan and program their own mobile apps.
Following the success she and her colleagues teamed up to launch the first ever chapter of the Technovation Challenge in Montreal, which was highly successful in its first year, empowering 50 girls to be creators and not just consumers of technology in 2015.
The UP program will be launched in three phases and according to Williamson the first phase is already out.
“It’s free to join, so we are encouraging businesses to join.”
Three services will be deployed on the platform to promote consumer access to products and services offered by entrepreneurs from Black communities.
UP – Digital Marketing Platform
The UP web application allows entrepreneurs to reach consumers directly. It will ultimately become a transactional site serving Black communities, as well as businesses, organizations, and service providers.
UP – Plug-in
A browser extension will be deployed to connect businesses and consumers. The functionality provided by this extension will also be available via a mobile application and a decentralized one. This extension will first serve as an identifier for businesses, organizations, and suppliers of goods and services. Consumers will be able to search for promotions directly in the browser extension and apply them to the sites of entrepreneurs from Black communities. This will make it easier to identify them on the web. In addition, users will be rewarded each time they use the platform.
UP – Amplify
This forum is a collaborative support tool that will allow entrepreneurs registered on the platform to submit urgent needs faced by their businesses, allowing the community to share resources. The forum aims to foster a spirit of cooperation, and forge connections and partnerships between various industry players. The goal is to strengthen Black communities’ entrepreneurial ecosystems.