Local Black-Owned Travel Company Gets Funding to Grow

What started less than two years ago with just one Instagram post – a photo of an African Nova Scotian visitor to Africville Park – is now a profitable local black-owned tourism business. Today, the founder of the company said she is using the funds she received to help her business grow.

René Boudreau is the founder of Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia, a tourism business for black travelers in the Atlantic region. The company’s tours showcase the history and culture of Black Nova Scotia to potential Black tourists from around the world.

“Elevate and Explore’s goal and vision is to encourage more black travelers to visit the province, but also to inspire people from all walks of life to explore the province as well,” she said.

“I thought that if more [Black] people could see themselves traveling across the province, so we would probably feel more comfortable going at different paces or more inclined to want to visit.

Boudreau is from the black community of Truro and has family roots in East Preston. She works for the Association of Black Social Workers. Most recently, she was one of over 100 business owners accepted into a mentoring program through American Express called Blueprint: Backing BIPOC Businesses. The program is for business owners who are black, native and other people of color.

Each participant received a grant of $ 10,000 to invest in their business. Boudreau said the 15-week program also includes a range of weekly speakers and networking opportunities with other BIPOC entrepreneurs across Canada.

“When I started out I wasn’t registered as a business or anything, I kind of started out with the goal of building a business out of it,” Boudreau said.

“I just started posting photos of blacks exploring the province. It would be pictures that I would have taken, or pictures that I would ask people to send to me, and I would just post them. From there, I was able to form partnerships with different companies and organizations.

One of the first partnerships was with Tourism Nova Scotia. Last summer, Boudreau was hired to take a group of friends and a photographer on an excursion to Mahone Bay where they were paid to document their experience to help promote a “Sail and Sea” package.

“When I started my goal was really to try to attract more black travelers to the province, but when COVID happened and travel wasn’t really a thing anymore, I had to in some way so I focused on encouraging people in the province to explore, which was fine because everyone was doing it anyway, ”she said.

She was able to take advantage of influencing opportunities for her business, then worked to grow her business by hosting events and experiences.]

Black History Bike Tour

The first was a sold-out Black History Bike tour in Halifax last summer. Boudreau partnered with I Heart Bikes on the Halifax waterfront and sold tickets to attendees from all walks of life, although the majority, she said, were predominantly white.

The group started at the Halifax waterfront and traveled to:

From there, the group cycled back to the waterfront and made additional stops to view various statues and plaques along the boardwalk that showcase the Black experience and history in Halifax and Nova Scotia. -Scotland.

Last summer, Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia partnered with Change is Brewing Collective, a group of Blacks, Aboriginals and other people of color who make craft beer, for a Black Excellence boat cruise. which started from the port of Halifax. They worked with Ambassatours to commission The Harbor Queen ship.

“It was open to everyone, but our target audience was black people,” Boudreau said.

This event also sold.

Participants were greeted on the boat by a group of African drummers and were treated to entertainment in the form of musical performances by various black artists and a live DJ on board.

“The goal with this is to create experiences for people that showcase black excellence, black history, all black. This is something that is needed here and often when it comes to experiences here, you don’t always see yourself on a boat. Or we don’t always see each other on a bike. ”

“[I was] i just try to be creative and come up with different ideas to engage people and create a space where people feel comfortable trying new things or just getting together.

Boudreau said part of the application process for the mentorship program is identifying the important milestones participants have for their business. Besides a business laptop, Boudreau said she wanted to spend the rest on future events to help her make a profit and grow her business.

“I’m planning a ski trip for black girls, which will hopefully be in March,” she said.

Last October, she hosted a retreat which she said was well received.

“It was really a success and all the participants were like, ‘Okay, when is the next one? You should do one for each season.

Additionally, Boudreau said she plans to launch an official website for Elevate and Explore Black Nova Scotia in December, which she says will promote her business and other Black-owned businesses and experiences throughout. Province.

“It will be a good resource for people from far away to go to this website and just browse it. And if they decide to visit Nova Scotia, here are a few black-owned businesses you can support; here are some black owned Airbnbs you can stay in; here are some cities and attractions; here [is an “about” section] to uplift and explore; there will be pictures [from my] social media. ”

Through social media, Boudreau said people from the United States, Montreal and Ontario have reached out to express their interest in both history and black communities in Nova Scotia, and to potentially travel here someday.

“When you walk into the real story, people are just mesmerized, like ‘Wow! “”

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