Schulich ExecEd (previously Schulich Executive Education Centre) celebrates the inaugural graduating class of the Business & Leadership Essential Certificate Program, delivered by the Black Entrepreneurship Alliance (BEA) in partnership with the Black Creek Community Health Centre.
Among this year’s 18 graduates are nine intrapreneurs, who are Black professionals building their leadership skills within existing organizations, and nine entrepreneurs, who have a business idea or an existing entrepreneurial business.
At the end of the 10-week program, graduates received a certificate from Schulich ExecEd, a strategic business unit of the Schulich School of Business at York University. Schulich ExecEd provides lifelong learning for the development of professionals and executives, beyond their full-time education and entry into the workforce.
The certificate program, funded by Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, welcomed applications from Black applicants from the Greater Toronto Area, providing guidance, instruction and mentorship, as well as financial, legal, practical and marketing support to assist budding and existing entrepreneurs.
“Our team is committed to supporting entrepreneurs towards success and providing the platform to achieve it. It is especially rewarding to have been a part of the journey towards success this inaugural graduating class has been on,” says Rami Mayer, Schulich ExecEd executive director. “Many of our graduates are individuals from our own community here at the Schulich School of Business within York University and we could not be more proud of their accomplishments and growth. We are incredibly honoured to have partnered with the Black Creek Community Health Centre in rolling out this learning journey that truly fosters a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment to a community that has faced many barriers to success. I know this program can and will change our graduates’ lives for the better in tangible ways and I am excited to see them each excel in the months and years to come.”
Program partner Black Creek Community Health Centre is a respected multi-service agency serving Toronto’s North York West and adjacent communities since 1989. The organization works with individuals, families and organizations to deliver comprehensive health services and programs that enable community members to receive the best care where they live.
“As a community health centre, our role is to provide health care, but we also create healthy environments where communities thrive, by encouraging and supporting success within the community. This program is just one innovative way Black Creek Community Health Centre is bringing real and tangible change to a community that traditionally faces too many barriers. This program breaks that cycle – providing skills, support, tools and opportunities,” says Cheryl Prescod, Black Creek Community Health Centre executive director.
The BEA is led by Black Creek Community Health Centre in partnership with Schulich ExecEd, as well as YSpace at York University and TD-Community Engagement Centre. The BEA offers six different programs designed to support Black professionals and entrepreneurs to achieve their business goals.
“Our partnership with Schulich ExecEd, delivering the Business & Leader Certificate Essential Program, is valued added to the long-term success of the Black entrepreneurial ecosystem. I’m excited about this strategic collaboration because it equips Black entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs with the essential business skills to build future-ready companies and effectively navigate a changing business landscape. Schulich ExecEd’s commitment to supporting present and future Black leaders will positively impact diverse participation levels in emerging economies,” says Olu Villasa, BEA manager.
Impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Tariq Al Barwadi, a student of the program, and his business partner had to step away from their thriving Parkdale neighbourhood storefront where they served unique tea blends to loyal customers for more than six years.
“The Business & Leadership Essential Certificate Program opened a door of opportunity when we needed it most. We felt welcomed within a supportive space, where we were inspired and supported to build a new business model, along with the required infrastructure to bring our selection of teas to an online marketplace. We are reaching more customers, inspiring a global customer community to discover their passion for our tea blends,” says Al Barwandi.
Certificate graduate Julienne Riviere was able to apply leadership skills from the program when she secured a position in her desired field midway through completing the certificate.
“I started this program while working in a finance/legal position, with the goal to work in health care in the future. Midway through the program, I landed a role in health care, and I got to see the topics we covered in course material unfold before my eyes. The Marketing & Strategy course content gave me the knowledge required to speak confidently in stakeholder meetings. I never imagined this program would be so applicable to my role so soon. I’m pleased to be a part of the first cohort to graduate from this program,” says Riviere, research coordinator, Research Institute at St. Joseph’s Health Centre.