New Business Enhancement Grants will support Black-owned businesses

Photo via Kingston Economic Development.

Kingston Economic Development has announced that the Black Entrepreneurship Ecosystem – South Eastern Ontario (BEE-SEO) has received a donation of $10,000 from Kingston-based computing company Distributive to establish Business Enhancement Grants for black entrepreneurs in the region. 

According to a release from Kingston Economic Development, the micro-grants will support local Black-owned businesses in expanding their market presence, acquiring new clients and, increasing sales.

BEE-SEO is a not-for-profit organization launched in the spring of 2023 with a mandate to support and create programs and services to help Black business owners and entrepreneurs in this region overcome the unique challenges they face. Learn more in Kingstonist’s previous coverage here.

Kingston Economic Development noted that local entrepreneur and businessman Dan Desjardins was inspired by the vision of BEE-SEO.

“Distributive believes that entrepreneurial ecosystems are made stronger when everyone is welcome to the table and when everyone can pitch in. The best way to support the Kingston community is to support each other and futureproof our own small business owners so we are stronger together. When seeking out products or services, we encourage Kingstonians to first look at what local Kingston companies — both established and brand new — have to offer. Support our ecosystem, buy Kingston-made,” Desjarins, the CEO of Distributive, said.

Applications for the $500 Business Enhancement Grant for Black Entrepreneurs are now open and being accepted until Sunday, Mar. 10, 2024.    

“We are thankful for the wonderful donation from Dan Desjardins of Distributive, as well as the incredible support we continue to receive from the Kingston Economic Development Corporation and other organizations,” stated Patrick Egbunonu, Board Chair of BEE-SEO.

“Dan’s goal is to help Black-owned businesses reach new markets, create value for customers, and generate repeat sales. BEE-SEO is excited to contribute to the economic growth of Southeastern Ontario by supporting Black Entrepreneurs on their business journey.”

Kingston Economic Development said it also supports the work being done by BEE-SEO.

“The incredible support BEE-SEO has received from the Kingston community since we started is a testament to the vibrant and generous spirit of our ecosystem. Entrepreneurs like Dan Desjardins have highlighted key challenges in entrepreneurship: the difficulty lies not only in establishing a business and offering quality services but also in attracting and retaining customers,” said Norman Musengimana, Business Development Manager – Start-ups and Entrepreneurship with Kingston Economic Development.

“With this contribution we will able to support 20 black-owned businesses, offering them a tangible support in their efforts to grow. This is a great way to celebrate and wrap up Black History Month.”

According to the release, there will be a celebration event and black entrepreneurs and business showcase on Saturday, May 11, 2024, at Pedal Works Café & Studios, unit 101C, 1412 Princess St.

To learn more about BEE-SEO and to apply for the micro-grant visit

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