Meet Tiffany Callender, co-founder and CEO of the Federation of African Canadian Economics (FACE), a company dedicated to assisting black entrepreneurs to succeed financially. The company runs a loan fund that provides capital support to black business owners with the aim of creating intergenerational wealth for Black Canadians.
“The ripple effects of slavery and colonization made it so that we don’t have assets to leverage, … to be able to start and grow businesses,” Callender said in an interview with Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).
According to CBC, the fund is the first of its kind among G7 countries. What is more, it has also received the support of the federal government of Canada and has since its establishment, disbursed more than $30 million in loans for Black-owned businesses across Canada.
Callender has been described as the ‘ultimate change maker’ by some of her colleagues and collaborators, including Montreal tech entrepreneur, Thierry Lindor, who has known Callender since CEGEP.
Lindor praises her for her ability to navigate the federal grant system and turn her ideas into viable social projects. During the pandemic, they worked on several social initiatives, such as Colors of COVID, an online platform to collect race-based data on the pandemic’s impacts.
They have also worked on other impactful projects, including paying underprivileged teenagers a minimum wage to read books from cover to cover.
For Callender, working on multiple projects to empower blacks has helped her to always meet new people from the African diaspora.
Her desire to help blacks succeed can be traced back to 1992 when she moved from Montreal’s Cartierville neighborhood to the West Island at the age of 10. At the time, her family was the only black family on the block.
Due to the cultural shock, her mother would often take her back to Cartierville on weekends to reorient herself.
“It felt like we moved to another place, like another country,” Callender said. “You can’t find the things that you’re used to — like go around the corner and get a patty.”
She would later seek to become a counselor at the Black Family Association of the West Island summer camp to recreate shared cultural ties. To get in, she had to conceal her age in order to qualify.
According to her, she was motivated by the desire to watch black women in leadership, which eventually influenced her desire to support black businesses.
“It seemed as though it was destined for me to have that experience — to watch Black women in leadership — because our camps were run by all the moms and aunties,” she said.