For 36 months, ACCEC’s ANZA Entrepreneurship Ecosystem will support 125 Black youth through 5 stage process to learn about, start, and grow their businesses. The ecosystem will intake 25 youth every six (6) months and provide them support training and access to essential supports to be successful entrepreneurs. The ANZA Entrepreneurship Ecosystem is unique because each phase of the project implements solutions to problems by involving the realities of youth perspective in all steps of the problem-solving process. 

ACCEC will leverage its partnerships’ collective strengths to help young Black entrepreneurs establish and sustain successful businesses. ANZA Entrepreneurship Ecosystem will support the start-up and growth of sustainable, job creating Black youth businesses and social enterprises by providing them with specialized and universal Interventions, quality business & entrepreneurship skills training, business development training, equitable access to capital, experiential learning opportunities, mentorship, and bridging their access to new markets.

Furthermore, the Anza Entrepreneurship Ecosystem will provide various wrap-around interventions  that support Black youth who are vulnerable to the impact of systemic racism, racial trauma and displacement resulting in justice-involvement . This program will have a focus on  interrupting cycles of crime and violence. The commitment of police, business, and community partners  working together will contribute to changing the way we work with Black youth in the city of Edmonton. 


Goals & Objectives

ACCEC’s goals in the ANZA Entrepreneurship Ecosystem are:

Target Systemic Barriers

Such as over-representation and lack of support in the justice system for Black youth by diverting them to better opportunities.

Build and Strengthen

All the essential supports that create meaningful opportunities for Black youth in Edmonton.

Establish The Imperative

In Black youth to drive social change and transformational benefit to society through business.

The ANZA Entrepreneurship Ecosystem has four overarching objectives:

  • Relentless outreach and transformational relationship-building will lead to a new sense  of “attachment and belonging” for Black youth. 
  • Built-in incentives for success to keep Black youth motivated to “learn and do.”
  • Address life challenges that Black youth face, such as basic needs. 
  • Provide continuous community support.
  • Assistance in ideation and provide information and education on a wide range of  industry options to consider. 
  • Adequate support and guidance with start-up, best practice processes, financial  literacy, and sustainability.
  • Sufficient access to capital, knowledge, and ongoing support. 
  • Access to business shadowing and mentorship. 

Key Activities

The key activities of the ANZA Entrepreneurship Ecosystem are:

The first three stages are ongoing and provided through a collaboration between ACCEC and EPS.

The core tenet of the interventions ACCEC provides ensures that the  youth’s basic needs are addressed. We ensure youth voice, supporting their basics, taking in to  account their lived experiences – relationship building. 

The fourth stage is a 17-week process where ACCEC utilizes the expertise of Startup Edmonton and Business Link to impart the required entrepreneurship and business knowledge on a solid foundation.

At this stage, youth undergo 17 weeks of rigorous advanced entrepreneurship  education and training by Startup Edmonton and Business Link. The stage will focus on  Education, ongoing community & business support, navigating government regulations and  policies, access to markets, access to capital. 

The fifth stage is vital and tied to the sustainability of the ANZA Entrepreneurship Ecosystem.

This is where we help our youth find a purpose and connection through  social enterprises and businesses. 

Target Demographic

The demographics served by the ANZA Entrepreneurship Ecosystem are low, medium, and high-risk Black youth. 

We provide specialized support for Black youth at very high risk of being justice-involved who typically leave school earlier either by suspension/expulsion or dropping out. Challenges they face include low self-esteem, high interaction with the justice system, low education achievement, high early incarceration, Lack of adult or healthy role model, Police profile/Carding.

  • Y-50 – Edmonton Police Service list of the 50 most at risk youth that are predominantly from  African, Caribbean, and Black communities. 
  • Mid and Low Risk Black youth. 
  • Linguistic minority Black youth.

ANZA Entrepreneurship Ecosystem implements anti-oppressive and intersectionality frameworks. Thus, propagating the participation of diverse ethnic communities, cultures, languages, religious beliefs, and gender identities are core values that will play a primary role when recruiting participants for this project.

A significant number of Black youths served by ACCEC stem from different cultural, linguistic (largely francophone), and religious communities and will be critical to the success of the project. Primary referrals for high-risk Black youth will come from the Edmonton Police Service; however, community referrals are accepted.

three men in jacket laughing at each other


The ANZA Entrepreneurship Ecosystem’s sustainability will be supported by funding allocated by Edmonton police should the model produce the desired result. Furthermore, ACCEC intends to secure future grant to continue the ecosystem. Lastly, ACCEC in helping youth create social enterprises will redirect youth to fund the program that supported them as a way of giving back.

Project Partners & Timeline

Yr1 – Yr3 Ongoing
Lead organization, specialized and universal Interventions
Yr1 – Yr3 Ongoing
Youth diversion, stabilization support
Startup Edmonton
Yr1 – Yr3: 17 wks. Biannually
Quality business and entrepreneurship skills training, business development training
Business Link
Yr1 – Yr3 Ongoing
Ongoing business support, navigation of government policies & regulations, experiential learning opportunities, mentorship, bridging access to markets.

The African Canadian Civic Engagement Council, ACCEC, is a 100% Black-led and run national public affairs organization that promotes and strengthens opportunities for African, Caribbean, Black, and racialized communities. Our mission is to preserve the best interest and address the needs of ACB Canadians most affected by the perpetuation of poverty, civic apathy, structural and systemic inequity. We achieve this by promoting quality of life and augmenting opportunities through collective activities aligned with Canada’s legislative framework and The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

ACCEC utilizes a management board model and comprises innovative, solution-oriented, passionate young natural leaders who share a vision of investing in young leaders and committing to civic, social, and economic prosperity. The three founding members of ACCEC have worked with over 300 African descent and indigenous youth within the criminal justice system. We have experience creating and implementing tailored and best-promising interventions around gang exiting, mentorship, life skills development, employment enhancement, education, identity formation, and community participation as a means of crime prevention, reduced interactions with systems, as ways to enhance youth’s social determinants of health. ACCEC founders have created restorative, rehabilitative, and culturally appropriate initiatives for youth with complex needs and trauma.

In January 2020, ACCEC launched its Youth Social Enterprise Program, a 6-weeks barrier-free program for talented, motivated young people who have a lot to share with the world based on their lived experiences. The initiative provided various opportunities and networks for young black future leaders. The program allowed youth to study and explore from a cultural, public health, and business model lens. Upon completing the program, each youth received a community-based business certificate and $400 to support their start-up.

ACCEC secret ingredient to success with our youth is providing Black youth adequate support to mitigate or negate the effects of personal and structural barriers. At the core of all our programs are

• Addressing life challenges that Black youth face, with a keen focus on basic needs.

Provide continuous community support.