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What can the data tell us about Black entrepreneurs in Canada?

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February is Black History Month: an invitation to recognize, celebrate and honour the profound contributions Black workers have made to building Canada’s economy, politics and labour market.

For Black History Month 2024, we’re sharing a three-part series in which we outline some of the history of Black entrepreneurs in Canada, review what official data sources can tell us about the state of Black entrepreneurship, and speak to Black entrepreneurs about their experiences in the labour market.  

This builds on our 2023 Black History Month series, in which we focused on the history of Black labour in Canada.  

Part 2: What can the data tell us about Black entrepreneurship in Canada?

In part two of our series, we’re looking at what official data sources from Statistics Canada can tell us about Black entrepreneurship in Canada. The data presented here are sourced from Statistics Canada’s 2023 Black Business Owners in Canada research paper.

Gender, immigration, region and age dynamics in Black entrepreneurship

In 2018, men represented more than two-thirds of Black business owners: among Black-owned businesses, far more men than women are owners (70.4% versus 29.6%). This gender gap was proportionally higher among businesses owned by members of other racialized groups or white people.

In 2021, the majority of Black business owners in Canada64.8% of Black men and 53.5% of Black women business ownerswere immigrants, just like the general Black population.

The proportion of Black business owners is highest in Ontario and Quebec, the provinces with the largest Black populations. The majority of Black Canadian business owners (73.9%) reside in Ontario or Quebec, with Ontario accounting for just over half (50.6%) and Quebec for 23.3%. Alberta (15.0%) and British Columbia (5.4%) follow, aligning with the distribution of the Black population.

Provinces with larger Black communities, such as Ontario (2.8%), Quebec (2.5%), and Alberta (2.2%), had higher rates of Black business ownership in 2018, possibly indicating a focus on community-specific products and services.

Map of Nigeria.



Map of Jamaica



Map of Ethiopia.



Map of Haiti.



Map of Somalia.



In 2018, more than half of Black immigrant business owners came from five countries: Nigeria (14.2%), Jamaica (12.1%), Ethiopia (10.5%), Haiti (10.2%) and Somalia (4.7%). These countries accounted for 51.7% of Black immigrant business owners.

As of 2018, Black business owners were, on average, six years younger than their white counterparts. Black and other racialized business owners, both men and women, had an average age of 47, which was six years younger than their white counterparts (53 years). This aligns with the overall younger demographic of the Black population in Canada.

Black-owned businesses across industries

In 2018, Black-owned businesses, whether incorporated or unincorporated, showed a strong presence in transportation and warehousing (34.3% for unincorporated and 14.2% for incorporated businesses), along with significant representation in professional, scientific and technical services (10.4% for unincorporated and 17.7% for incorporated businesses).

Transportation and warehousing

(34.3% for unincorporated and 14.2% for incorporated businesses)

Professional, scientific, and technical services

(10.4% for unincorporated and 17.7% for incorporated businesses)

While the distribution by industry was similar among racial groups, in 2018 Black-owned businesses exhibited a distinct profile, being twice as likely as white-owned enterprises to focus on:

Transportation and warehousing

Health care and social assistance

In 2018, Black Canadian entrepreneurs were concentrated in the following industries:

Construction and manufacturing

Medical and dental


Science and technology

Aesthetics, beauty and grooming

Arts and culture

Professional services


Food and beverage and hospitality

Agriculture and clean energy

The scale of Black entrepreneurship in Canada

As of 2018, businesses owned by Black people were, on average, smaller than those owned by white people or members of other racialized groups. Most unincorporated businesses owned by Black individuals (95.6%) had fewer than one employee, contrasting with 92.7% and 89.6% for businesses owned by members of other racialized groups and white individuals, respectively.


Dr. Suzanne Spiteri is a sociologist with several years of experience in both qualitative and mixed-methods data analysis. She leads labour-related projects that explore labour market tightness and the labour market outcomes of under-represented groups.

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