DC student leading the way for Black entrepreneurs

Category: DC in the community

Student Spotlight – Guedei Djimi

Many young people dream of becoming entrepreneurs, but the path to business success is not an easy one. Even with a great education behind you, there’s no guarantee your company will flourish.

Guedei Djimi, a second-year student in the PR and Strategic Communications program, made his business dream come true by helping others achieve theirs. In 2020, Djimi and his friend Karisha Duncan co-founded All Blk Market (ABM), a networking and e-commerce platform that showcases small, Black-owned businesses and bridges the gap between aspiring entrepreneurs and Black professionals.

We spoke to Guedei about his passion for helping his community, the lessons he’s learned at Durham College (DC) and his plans for the future.

Why did you decide to study PR, as opposed to business?

I got into PR to understand how to successfully put events together through networking, social media marketing, and fundraising campaigns, amongst other tools. I wanted to learn tangible skills and connect with likeminded individuals in the industry.

How has your DC education helped you build All Blk Market?

Over the years, Durham College has certainly played an intricate role in the success of our ABM events. The idea to host our first event was brought on while studying PR Techniques and Corporate Management in the first year of my program. The knowledge gained from my program played an essential role in the success of Blk Friday, which we host every July. It’s a trade show and a networking event where we bring likeminded individuals in one place, whether it’s aspiring entrepreneurs, or professionals – financial advisors, business consultants – who want to help out small businesses.

How does All Blk Market work?

Let’s say you’re an aspiring entrepreneur. We meet with you to understand the basics of your business, and we announce our collaboration online and add you to our website. If you’re selling products, our audience can purchase them on our website. We’re like an incubator where people can find things, like Amazon. When you go there you see products from different entities. This is the same thing for Black-owned businesses.

How do you support the entrepreneurs you work with?

Whenever we get connected to a business owner, we make sure we build a sustainable relationship. We want to make sure that they’re satisfied throughout our collaboration, but beyond that, we have this relationship where if they ever need us to connect them to a professional in a certain industry, or a business consultant or financial advisor, we can always do that.

Has All Blk Market been successful?

It’s been going great. We have been able to collaborate with a lot of businesses around our city, and establish and build sustainable relationships with a lot of Black professionals in our community. We also launched a delivery company, ABM On Call. Not only are we selling our clients products, we also take the initiative of delivering products on their behalf to their customers. They have more time to work on their business and focus on being creative.

Has it been difficult balancing student life with your business responsibilities?

Honestly, I would say they were both in sync for me as I was literally applying what I learn at school towards the business and vice versa. So as a business owner, I embraced the student life because it was helping me expand my knowledge in the industry on a day-to-day basis.

What are your goals for the future?

In the next five years, we want to expand nationwide. We mostly operate in the GTA, but we want to make it nationwide, because it is needed everywhere. We have collaborated with businesses in other provinces, but it wasn’t sustainable because we want to make sure our foundation here in Toronto is very solid and strong before we take the same model to other provinces.  

All Blk Market is hosting a special fundraising event on Saturday, April 15 at StartWell in Toronto. Funds raised will go towards their ‘Entrepreneurship With ABM’ program, which helps aspiring entrepreneurs between 18 and 29 start their business from the ground up.

Guedei and other young entrepreneurs shared their products and stories at the “We Love Entrepreneurs” event on Wednesday, March 29. For more on the event, click here.