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2016 Grantee Profile: BiaSHEara

Biashara (Noun, Swahili)             Business, trade, commerce

BiaSHEara was birthed from a need: a need for fruitful employment for East African women living in Toronto. Karimah, the BiaSHEara founder, and an East African woman and artist, found herself facing multiple barriers when seeking a job in the workforce (racism, sexism, Islamophobia). With few opportunities arising, Karimah decided to create them for herself. She became an entrepreneur. Starting her business in photography and cinematography, she wanted to expand her knowledge of film, “I entered a program that was actually funded by ArtReach, it was a thirteen week program led by Nayani Thiyagarajah and Muna Ali under Refuge Productions”.

Within the program, Karimah was exposed to Thiyagarajah’s film Shadeism. Through watching the film, the thought of BiaSHEara emerged, “I saw the documentary and was inspired to do something that looked into the East African community in some form, in the GTA”.

Initially, the program was going to simply be a documentary, “I noticed that there were a lack of resources for East African women job wise and so a lot of them took up entrepreneurship. I wanted to showcase these women.” Karimah pitched the idea to her colleagues and together they decided that the project could go one step further, “we wanted to work with East African youth in the process.”

“I noticed that there were a lack of resources for East African women job wise and so a lot of them took up entrepreneurship. I wanted to showcase these women.”

It was important for Karimah and the BiaSHEara team to expose East African youth to the entrepreneurs in their community, “we wanted to showcase to youth that this can be done.” Beyond that, the team wanted to mold the youth into entrepreneurs themselves. In order to educate youth on the entrepreneurial aspects of filmmaking, the BiaSHEara team decided they had to educate from two business angles: filmmaking and marketing.

As such, the program will begin with four workshops: two on filmmaking and two on marketing. The workshops will holistically engage as much of the community as possible.   Various community members will be leading the filmmaking workshops, with Karimah’s assistance; and, Manar El Mugammar, owner of Candid Consulting, and a featured entrepreneur, will teach marketing strategies.

The youth will have an opportunity to network within the workshops and during the filmmaking process; and, the community will have a greater capacity for networking with BiaSHEara’s foreseeable online network. Karimah also has plans for a website that will include the ongoing network of East African business women/men throughout the GTA that she has discovered through her documentary research, “I’m overwhelmed by the outpour of support given to me by my community. I didn’t even know there were so many East African entrepreneurs in the GTA until I started this project.” Karimah exclaimed that she can’t wait to share her connections with her community, “there are no other resources like this out there”.

Karimah anticipates the natural evolution of this website into a workshop series where people can meet face to face in order to create more intimate connections. We agree that the possibilities for this project are far expanding and look forward to the future of this project. We are grateful we get to support Karimah and her biaSHEara ambition.

If you think you'd be interested in joining the BiaSHEara team, check out their flyer and see if it could be a fit for you! You can also learn more about BiaSHEara here!

Author: Cassey Andrews


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