Chanice and Victoria were co-workers and friends when the pandemic hit. Like many Canadians, the pandemic pause helped them think about making a career change. “We were working the 9-to-5, but it was not rewarding; we wanted something we were happy to do every day,” says Chanice.
While out on a walk with Victoria’s Bernese mountain dog, Koda, they came up with the idea for a dog-friendly café in their Markham, Ontario community. “I thought it would be a good idea to open a dog-friendly coffee shop where I can enjoy my coffee and bring my dog so we can hang out together,” recalls Victoria.
Chanice explains, “We knew we wanted this business, but we didn’t have the financing.” With their idea, a potential location, and their business plan in hand, they contacted CIBC about securing financing. They were relieved when they found out they could apply to get a loan from the CIBC Black Entrepreneur Program.
“With the Black Entrepreneur Program we have at CIBC, we were able to grab that financing for them to be able to open this beautiful location that they have here,” says Chancie Romain, Black Entrepreneur Specialist at CIBC.
When asked how they felt now about their careers, Victoria replies, “It’s been rewarding, seeing that we can finally do what we love.”
“It’s so much fun for us watching the dogs while the owners enjoy their drinks,” says Chanice. “They tell us we have the best job in the world, and I can’t disagree.”
This year we celebrate the 1-year anniversary of the Black Entrepreneur Program, which launched in February 2022. The program helps business owners from the Black community, like The Bernese Barista, get started and accelerate the success of their businesses.