This fall, Foodpreneur Lab announced a project to support the start and scale development of food products crafted by 200 Black entrepreneurs.
This fully-funded project, spanning the next 4 years, was launched under the leadership of Janice Bartley, founder of Foodpreneur Lab.
Bartley says she “was constantly approached by Black food entrepreneurs making products but who didn’t know or couldn’t access the steps to navigate the industry when launching a new product or commercializing an existing one. Over the last four to five years, there were programs in place, but they did not necessarily reflect the rich culture and unique experience of the Black community; visibility was low and I started to ask why?”
Foodpreneur Lab’s Advisor-Led Start Up and Scale Up Support Paths are the answer to the question initially asked by Bartley.
The Start-Up Path is for pre-revenue foodpreneurs (‘food entrepreneurs’) who have an idea they want to turn into a prototype. The Scale-Up Path is for foodpreneurs who are currently selling products in the market and are ready for commercialization or product diversification. Both Start Up and Scale Up guide each participant through every stage of product development based on their chosen Path.
Foodpreneur Lab has, “pioneered an approach that personalizes each participant’s development with the expert help of advisors and industry knowledge. But, it was not enough to just provide expert support for our Black foodpreneurs, we also identified systemic barriers in product development and imbued targeted solutions to those barriers in both of our Paths”, says Bartley.
“The intended outcome with this project is to see Black food entrepreneurs better compete, domestically and internationally. The agrifood sector is growing at an exponential rate and we are an important part of that. We are consumers and we are innovators who have a lot to contribute, we just need access at every level. Opening these doors is our fierce mandate and my personal mission,” said Bartley.
In 2021, Foodpreneur Lab was one of 20, Ontario-based not for profit recipients of the Black Entrepreneurship fund, receiving $3M over the next (4) years to support 200 Black Food entrepreneurs Start and Scale food products in the Canadian market. The applications are now closed for the first cohort of 50 businesses. Keep an eye on their website for announcements about the second cohort in early 2022.
Want to make a difference in this space?
Here’s how you can get involved.
Donate to the Foodprenuer Lab and help empower entrepreneurs from underserved communities realize their food dreams by getting in touch with them directly.
Buy products from brands and entreprenuers from underserved communities. This helps to support racial and gender equity in product development and company leadership.
Share success stories, news and facts about diverse foodpreneurs. You can subscribe to food entreprenuers social media channels or do your own research. There’s many different networks you can discover once you start to look! Then, connect and network with other groups and people that support equality and diversity in entrepreneurship.
About Foodpreneur Lab
Established in 2019, Foodpreneur Lab is the only Canadian Black-woman founded and led nonprofit with a fierce national mandate to advance racial and gender equity in the food sector. Their mission is to level the playing field for underserved communities and forge Paths where Black foodpreneurs can leverage their cultural insight and lived experiences in food product innovation. Find out more at foodpreneurlab.com.