Startup Stories: Afro Canadian Contractors Association
New associations launch to fill a void in their sector. Here, the Afro Canadian Contractors Association tells us why they started, what they’ve been up to, and what they plan to do next.
Starting point. Like many industries, the Canadian construction industry is undergoing a transformation. “Workers are in shortage in Canada because of the retiring population, and they expect in a few years there will be dozens of jobs available with no one to fill them,” said Stephen Callender, president of the newly formed Afro Canadian Contractors Association (ACCA). In addition to the worker shortage, Callender noted that systemic racism and inequality permeated the industry, which led to a dearth of Black construction workers.
“A group of us got together, and were excited about finding Black contractors,” Callender said. “There were no organizations in Canada to identify Black contractors.” ACCA was formed to help identify Black contractors and assist them in competing for work, as well as find new people interested in the construction field.
While ACCA’s board legally formed the association in September 2020, they chose to formally launch the organization in February 2021 to coincide with Black History Month.
Early work. Right now, the group is focused on education and outreach. “Our main goal is to teach contractors how to get into the system,” Callender said. “There are some barriers to get into the system, especially for small contractors, so we have a lot of webinars to show contractors how to bid for jobs.”
Every month, ACCA hosts an educational webinar, and they have other events that allow partners and sponsors to “come show members tools and training.”
Next steps. Because of COVID-19, meetings for the group have been virtual, so ACCA is focused on growing connections and the network of people involved for members. “Our main goal is education and meet and greet, so we can improve our network,” Callender said.
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