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

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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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Chiedza Jones

Director of Corporate Strategy, Research and Communications

Chiedza has been working in the non-profit sector for several years, supporting communities and organizations through project management, research, data management, evaluation, communications, grant… Read More

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Rodger Smith

Entrepreneurship Engagement Manager

Rodger joined the Entrepreneurial Engagement Team (formerly the Regional Business Development Team) in November 2013. Born and raised in the Community of North Preston, he now resides in the… Read More

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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

Entrepreneurship 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

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Vimbayi Handara

Manager, Business is Jammin'

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

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Sage Outerbridge

Field Officer, Supporting Black Canadian Communities Initiative (SBCCI)

In 2015, Sage Outerbridge moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia from Bermuda to pursue her studies at Saint Mary’s University. Whilst at Saint Mary’s University, she obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree… Read More

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Jocelyn Stevens

Entrepreneurship Engagement Manager - New Brunswick

Jocelyn is a native New Brunswicker. She brings a lot of passion and experience to her position as EEM for the New Brunswick region. Prior to her recent accomplishments as an entrepreneur, she spent… Read More

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Precious Familusi

Entrepreneurship Engagement Manager – Newfoundland

Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Precious has spent most of his life living in different countries around the world, before making Newfoundland and Labrador his home. His passion for supporting… Read More

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Marine Gemeda

Coordinator Assistant for Youth Client & Stakeholder Engagement

Marine earned a bachelor’s degree in International Development Studies from Saint Mary’s University. She joined BBI in April of 2022 as Coordinator Assistant for Youth Client & Stakeholder… 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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