It’s been two years since the Afro Canadian Contractors Association launched and although the group has made great strides, they still have work to do, says ACCA president Stephen Callender.
“It’s quite surprising. Although we’ve been here for two years, we’ve been on the radio, we’ve been on TV, there are still a lot of contractors that don’t know we’re here,” he said. “The success that we’re having is membership is growing and we have some programs that educate our members to get better in the industry.”
The goal of the association is to unify and grow the Afro-Canadian community of developers and provide industry stakeholders with a pool of experienced and diverse contractors.
ACCA has been hosting a number of webinars educating members on how to grow their business.
One of the challenges, he explained, is when smaller members go to bid on jobs, they are not used to all the paperwork and they get discouraged or give up.
“They feel there is a disadvantage for them to get some of these projects,” said Callender, adding ACCA has been focusing on providing members with advice and tips for navigating the process.
“It is giving contractors a chance and showing them how things are done, especially when someone is going from building homes by themselves with one person to having a crew. Having to bid on a job formally is a big difference. It’s a lot of paperwork and estimating. All this experience that we are sharing is helping them grow their business.”
ACCA is also focusing on building a directory of Black contractors across Canada. The campaign was launched two weeks ago.
“The main reason the group was started was so there is a repository to find Black contractors,” Callender explained. “To grow the contactor base we decided to get this directory going to get more people knowing about ACCA, knowing that we’re here.
“It’s going to be escalated. We’re going to be pushing it some more for Black History Month,” he added. “It’s a good service for the construction industry too because we’re looking for more diverse people in construction, but even for more people to get into construction period. The underrepresented group of BIPOC is an untapped area for workers and contractors to get more involved.”
Those who participate will be entered to win a prize. The draw will take place Feb. 28.
“Any person who enters a contractor name, you are entered into a draw and have a chance to win a $1,000 gift certificate from Air Canada,” Callender said. “A contractor will be drawn to win the same prize, so there are two prizes given away — one for the person who submitted the contractor name and for the contractor itself.”
Black History Month is a time to celebrate how far the construction industry and the country have come, Callender said.
“Black History Month is a celebration of the progress that’s being made for diversity and inclusion, not only in the industry but in the country as a whole,” he said. “We have to showcase what is changing.”
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