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

Matthew J. Martel's headshot

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. Makanjoula's headshot

Ayo D. Makanjoula

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

Omotayo Adedeji's headshot

Omotayo Adedeji


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Lydia Phillip's headshot

Lydia Phillip

Training & Communications Manager

Lydia is passionate about social entrepreneurship as a catalyst for creating social impact and empowering those within marginalized communities. Always having envisioned a career of advocacy and… Read More

Idy Fasharonti's headshot

Idy Fasharonti

Consultant, DEN Project Lead

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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

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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 Manager

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Otni Chinenere's headshot

Otni Chinenere

Entrepreneurship Engagement Manager

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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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