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Helping create female entrepreneurs – Tia Upshaw

Hailing from Halifax, Tia Upshaw knows that change sometimes starts with uncomfortable conversations. Tia founded BWIE, a non-profit in Atlantic Canada, to support female entrepreneurs, inspired by her own struggles starting out. Since 2020, BWIE has offered workshops, seminars, mentorship programs, and other resources to help female entrepreneurs overcome obstacles and thrive.

Tia was called defiant when she was a teenager due to her habit of asking too many questions. “Definitely. Now I’m in my early 40s. I realize it has actually benefited me and it has created needed change in the community,” she says.

When Tia couldn’t find the right job for herself, she took matters into her own hands and started a home-cleaning business in Nova Scotia. Alongside a night job delivering newspapers, she managed to support her three children. Despite societal expectations favouring education or government jobs, Tia pursued entrepreneurship.

As the CEO of Blk Women in Excellence, a firm that helps other Black women start their own businesses, Tia conducts 16-week startup programs where the participants come in with an idea and leave being capital-ready. She thanks her grandmother Evelina for inspiring her by starting food banks and breakfast programs. Two out of Upshaw’s three children have also launched their own businesses, showcasing the impact of growth across generations.