Our Team

Rustum Southwell's headshot

Rustum Southwell

Chief Executive Officer (Interim)

Rustum Southwell has a true entrepreneurial mind, business acumen, passion and spirit to drive a successful business. Having successfully owned and managed various franchises in the food industry for… Read More

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Matthew J. Martel

Chief Operating Officer

A Certified Project Manager who believes in a ‘people-first’ approach to business, Matthew James Martel is the Chief Operating Officer at the Black Business Initiative (BBI). He was born in Cape… Read More

Njabulo Nkala's headshot

Njabulo Nkala

Director, Innovation & Growth

Njabulo is an MBA graduate from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS with interests in the field of finance, business and community development. He is the Director of Innovation & Growth. Read More

Ayo D. Makanjuola's headshot

Ayo D. Makanjuola

Chief Finance Officer

Ayo D. Makanjuola is currently the Chief Financial Officer of the Black Business Initiative in Halifax. Ayo has over 12 years’ experience in public and corporate accounting and has provided business… Read More

Idy Fasharonti's headshot

Idy Fasharonti

Consultant, DEN Project Lead

Idy Fashoranti assumed the role of the Director of Operations for the Diversity Employment Network, bringing to the position more than 20 years of experience in financial planning and analysis,… Read More

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Gabriela Mkonde

Accounting Assistant

Growing up in Zimbabwe and Tanzania, Gabriela moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia to complete a Bachelor of Administration with a major in accounting and a minor in management at Mount Saint Vincent… Read More

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Jasmine Murphy

Office Administrator

Born and raised in Nova Scotia, Jasmine Murphy is from the community of Beechville. She graduated from Sheridan College in Brampton, Ontario with a Community and Justice diploma. It was soon after… Read More

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Chiedza Jones

Field Officer, Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative

Chiedza has been working in the non-profit sector for over 5 years, supporting communities and organizations through research analysis, data management, evaluation, communications and advocacy. She… Read More

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Rodger Smith

Entrepreneurial Engagement Manager

Rodger joined the RBDM team in November 2013. Born and raised in the Community of North Preston, he now resides in the Community of East Preston with his wife Marilyn. He had over 37 years of… Read More

Mamadou Wade's headshot

Mamadou Wade

Entrepreneurship Engagement Manager

Mamadou believes leadership is something that one carries with them in different environments. He is currently working as an Entrepreneurship Engagement Manager (EEM). Mamadou was born in Cincinnati,… Read More

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Otni Chinenere

Entrepreneurial Engagement Manager

Otni Chinenere is a young African-Canadian woman in every sense, having been born in Zimbabwe, Africa and then migrating to Nova Scotia as an adult. She is well traveled, and has lived in at least 5… Read More

Ayoola Ogunbiyi's headshot

Ayoola Ogunbiyi

Financial Controller

Ayoola Ogunbiyi is the Financial Controller of the Black Business Initiative. He holds a master’s degree in Finance and also hold designations with both the Institute of Chartered Accountants Nigeria… Read More

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Monica Mutale

Communications Manager

Monica is a graduate of the School of Journalism at the University of King’s College. She has a passion for using her communications expertise to help organizations reach wider audiences more… Read More

Vimbayi Handara's headshot

Vimbayi Handara

Business is Jammin' Manager

Vimbayi is a strong believer in creating social and economic impact that assists marginalized communities. She has aimed to do this by offering sustainable solutions to youth and business owners… Read More

How we help Black businesses



We offer business courses, run a mentorship program, and provide business counseling.

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Financial Assistance

We provide financial assistance and connect our clients with funding resources.

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We connect the Black business community, the government, and other stakeholders.

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