September 29, 2022 by Romain Baker, Beneficiary

The Black Business Grants for Toronto’s Eglinton West is now closed. Thank you all for your support of the Little Jamaica community. There were a total of 9 black business owners supported through this initiative. We are excited to announce that 100% of the funding donated (minus Go Fund Me deductions) were awarded directly to the black businesses within Little Jamaica.

GoFundMeLittle Jamaica

Black Business Grants for Toronto's Eglinton West

Toronto’s Eglinton West neighbourhood, often referred to as “Little Jamaica”, has been bearing economic hardship for several years as a result of the Crosstown LRT, and its historical and economic significance is being threatened by the displacement of its residents and businesses due to prolonged construction. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this economic hardship and set Black communities even further behind. This is a call to action to support Black-owned businesses along Eglinton West as many of the business owners have been unable to pay their rents, invest in themselves and prepare for the future. In addition, their needs have not been met by the federal government’s funding programs to mitigate the impact of  COVID-19. These businesses needed funding years ago and the situation is even more dire today. “Little Jamaica” is tied to the presence of these businesses and if they are displaced, this historical, cultural, and economic centre of Toronto’s Black community goes with it. 

We are looking to support Black businesses to not only meet their short-term needs so that they can survive during the economic recovery from COVID-19, but also to chart a path for long-term economic sustainability through ownership.

Rebuild Eglinton’s collaborative partner is Black Urbanism TO (BUTO), a non-for-profit organization that has been engaging with the Eglinton West community for over two years to ensure that the community’s voice is reflected in the City’s plans for the area. BUTO has held two major community consultations (The Future of Housing in Little Jamaica and most recently “A Black Business Conversation” consultation series in February 2020. This GoFundMe campaign supports some of the recommendations coming out of that consultation session. BUTO is also in conversation with elected officials and government staff on neighbourhood development plans and has worked with business owners to begin centralizing the asks of the community. Through these engagements, BUTO has spoken with each business owner on topics related to current concerns and the future of the neighbourhood, and maintains very strong connections to prominent community and business leaders. 

Our Community Members serving patrons.

Together we have established an application process that asks business owners fundamental questions on their needs during this time and what they identify as a long-term necessity (i.e. re-designing storefront and inside of store for sustainable consumer needs).

The purpose of Rebuild Eglinton West is to create a grant fund for residents to support start-ups and existing Black businesses to promote the preservation and restoration of our community. The possibilities remain endless. We aim to expand this invitation to network with existing realtor companies, property owners, suppliers, small businesses in any sector (food, entertainment, health and well-being, education) to replenish our community and have our living necessities in closest proximity to us.

This application process will not only ask businesses to demonstrate immediate needs, but also capture the barriers to ownership and allow businesses to identify and actualize their long-term goals.

Please visit @blackurbanism_to and @rebuildegwest on instagram for more details.

image credited to Blog TO