The Conestoga Entrepreneur Collective (CEC) recently released their Five Year Impact Report showcasing the success of Black entrepreneurs in Waterloo Region. The CEC delivers unique programming and support to entrepreneurs in the community and is working in partnership with LiftOff, a community-based ecosystem of Black entrepreneurs in Waterloo Region and Wellington County, to specifically support Black entrepreneurs.

According to the report, out of the total 130 ventures that have come out of the CEC Venture Lab, 103 (79%) were started by Black entrepreneurs. Additionally, of those 103 ventures, 75% were founded by women.

This year, Conestoga College is celebrating the five-year anniversary of the Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective (CEC) and their four-year partnership with LiftOff. Since September 2021, the CEC has worked closely with LiftOff and the Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region (CCAWR) to develop a customized version of the Venture Lab roadmap that takes into account the specific pain points experienced by Black entrepreneurs.

Today, with over 100 participants to date, the program has been nothing short of success, and the impact of this programming is not lost on Trevor Charles, the Executive Director of LiftOff.

“The partnership of the LiftOff Black Entrepreneurship Program with Conestoga Entrepreneurship Collective has been transformational to our communities,” said Charles. “As we grow, we look forward to continuing our partnership with Conestoga in the years to come, with an emphasis on social impact, Cleantech and sustainability, and STEMM entrepreneurship.”

Support for this important initiative was provided through the National Ecosystem Fund, contributing to the economic prosperity and well-being of the community by providing Black entrepreneurs with the mentorship, training and tools to launch, grow and scale their businesses.

LiftOff was created by the Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region (CCAWR) and made possible by Government of Canada funding through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

The Conestoga Entrepreneur Collective has received more than 1,000 applications and more than 4,500 students have been engaged through workshops and bootcamps. It has supported 130 ventures and launched 157 freelancers and 82 sales careers.

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