We have a long road ahead in addressing racism in corporate Canada: Black Opportunity Fund co-founder
HALIFAX - When Chantal Carter was pitching what would become Love and Nudes to a possible investor before the launch of the brand, his concerns about the size of the lingerie line took her aback.
“He said that it was ... too many different colours to carry in a retail store and I couldn't understand why he would say that,” Carter said in an interview.
Carter, CEO of the lingerie brand that caters to darker skin tones, said the investor's comment has stuck with her since the start of her brand in 2017, a brand she created to address the gap in nude underwear options that largely caters to customers with fairer skin.
“There's pink bras, there's red bras, there's blue bras, there's purple bras, why can't there be a range of brown bras?” she said.
“In that moment, I felt like he was telling me, 'You don't matter. You or your people's needs don't matter'.”
Carter is one of several Black women in Canada's business landscape who have had to contend with barriers to funding, according to a new report.
The study, produced by Toronto-based market research firm Pitch Better, is based on an online survey of more than 1,500 Black women-led for-profit and non-profit businesses in Canada.
The report found Black women often struggle with a lack of networks and mentorship, which results in lower yields for their business ventures.
Survey respondents also reported that the under-representation of Black women in business and customer bias against Black-owned businesses have negatively impacted their ability to navigate the Canadian business ecosystem.
Differences in perception across racial and ethnic groups are contributing to unique hurdles faced by Black businesswomen, the report said.
The report referenced a U.S. study that found “Black women startup founders raise $36,000 on average, while the average (mostly white male-led) failed start-up raises $1.3 million.”
Carter said she's seen the difference in reception between white and Black business people in her own experiences.
“Sometimes we have to do backflips to get something, whereas our white counterparts may not have to do that,” she said. “They're questioned less because of what they look like.”
More than 43 per cent of the respondents reported raising no external funding in the creation of their businesses and at least a third of respondents never take advantage of funding programs.
In Carter's case, this meant raising cash via a crowdfunding campaign for the first production run of the Love and Nudes line and since then, most of her funding has been “bootstrapped” she said, meaning that she's built the company from the ground up with little more than her own capital.
The top three reasons respondents said they didn't apply for funding were a lack of awareness of available programs, not meeting the eligibility requirements and frustration over past outcomes with the application process.
According to the polling industry's generally accepted standards, online surveys cannot be assigned a margin of error because they do not randomly sample the population.