A Year in the Life of Ross Cadastre, BBPA President

We recently had a chance to sit down with Ross Cadastre to gauge his thoughts and perceptions on his first year as the President of the BBPA. Read the conversation below to get some insights into what’s happened at the BBPA in 2022 and what’s to come.

Why did you decide to take on the role of BBPA President?

My role as BBPA President is a strategic one for the organization. It came following a review of the BBPA’s 3-year strategic plan, where it was determined that the organization’s structure needed to be revamped to encourage growth. The decision by the board to appoint Nadine Spencer, former BBPA President, as the new CEO, with the overall responsibility for operationalizing strategies, leading the programming and fundraising efforts of the organization was an intentional and purposeful one.

Following Nadine’s appointment, I assumed the role as interim president of the BBPA. I was the Vice President, so it was a natural progression. My decision to accept this position stays true to the reason I decided to join the BBPA board in 2018. I remain committed to adding value every day by using my experience and voice to ensure that challenges with race and inequality are highlighted, and actionable strategies are implemented.

I am dedicated to being a big part of that conversation where, together as an organization, we build a better community by partnering and participating in developing active solutions that provide tangible support to Black-owned businesses. It is important to me and the board that our Black communities, our Black entrepreneurs, benefit from and build on generational wealth that has eluded us for a long time.

In your first year as the BBPA President, what have you learned?

My first year has been an insightful and transformative one. It has been a perceptive transition and has influenced and reshaped my outlook on many things. I am happily working with the board to develop strategies that secure the future of the BBPA and ensure its longevity for the next 40+ years. I’ve also learned a lot from my conversations with Black business owners across the country. Whether it is related to their business challenges, success stories and or growth opportunities, I have been encouraged by their entrepreneurial journeys.

What is your favourite part of being the BBPA President?

There are so many reasons why I love being a part of the BBPA; it’s difficult to pinpoint which is my favourite part. A large part of my career has been spent reviewing and assessing start-up companies and ushering them into a new wave of growth and providing the management support needed. As the BBPA President, I take tremendous joy in helping businesses develop and build generational wealth for their families. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a Black business owner with limited resources and options get the support and guidance they need to place them on the pathway to growth and success.

What challenges did you face in this role?

In any leadership role, one must expect challenges and sleepless nights, but I am extremely grateful to work alongside a team with a unified vision for the organization. In this current climate, being the President, I am faced with the challenges of additional and recurring investment and support for Black businesses in Canada – I’d say this would be the biggest challenge at this time. It is highly imperative for us to secure adequate funding, to allow us to continue to deliver on all our promises and initiatives to support Black business owners and help entrepreneurs realize their dreams of building a self-sustaining business.

When you started your tenure as president, what was your mandate?

My mandate, when I began this journey, was to put measures in place to ensure that the BBPA’s structure was fully functional and agile enough to support any Black business in Canada wherever they may be. This lines up with the BBPA’s 4-year goal of raising $40M to support 10,000 black owned businesses.  

After almost a year in this role, has your mandate changed?

Not at all. In fact, I am now more committed than ever to achieving that goal. As I speak to more and more Black businesses, and have heard their personal journeys to entrepreneurship, I am convinced of the impact and importance of my role, and the role of the BBPA, in driving and building a sustainable and equitable future for Black businesses in Canada.    

What initiatives did you spearhead this year?

This year was one of internal focus for me. As President my goal is to ensure that our board is set up for growth, so a lot of my time was spent putting the pieces together for this.  One of the initiatives I was proud to spearhead was the Black Men in Business Bootcamp with our programs team. This initiative was an excellent opportunity for learning, networking and supporting our Black businessmen. I think at times it is easy to forget the weight that our Black men carry as husbands, fathers, providers and advisors. It was a time for reflection and upliftment, all in a safe space.

What will you focus on for the rest of 2022 and the new year?

This year our National Scholarship Program had a record number of awardees and donations. For the first time in the history of the BBPA, we awarded 150 scholarships valued at a half million dollars. I will use this opportunity to highlight our focus on our youth, their education, and their future. Additionally, we’ll host our Annual General Meeting, which is pivotal for our organization. A significant amount of my time will be spent in the organization of and follow -through on the results of the AGM.

Why do you think other Black business owners should get involved in the BBPA?

Black business owners should join and get involved in the BBPA as it creates new opportunities for growth and opportunities for new relationships. It also allows for more entrepreneurial ventures that will ultimately empower more Canadian Black business owners to gain better economic and social standing.

The BBPA also offers several programs that support Black business owners and entrepreneurs, where they get to learn firsthand from those who have been on the same journey and currently enjoying success. This, to me, is what is needed to build sustainability, profitability and ensure that the voice of every Black business owner is heard.

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