Putting Black Businesses on the Map: Tyson Tolliver

Growing up in East Preston, NS, Tyson Tolliver knew about many of the African Nova Scotian businesses that serve communities throughout Nova Scotia. Plenty of folks in the local community knew about these integral businesses, but when it came to their online presence – or awareness beyond the community – Tyson noticed a gap.

He took it upon himself to put these businesses on the map, using weekends and personal time to drive to locations across the province, take photos, and add them to Google Maps. Through this personal mission, the idea for the African Nova Scotian Directory was born.

Tyson is now revolutionizing the digital presence of the African Nova Scotian community through his online platform, the African Nova Scotian Directory. The directory connects people to the African Nova Scotian community online and offers site visitors an expansive public database of businesses, events, and cultural information.

We connected with him earlier this year to learn more about his personal journey and the challenges and opportunities he’s faced.

Tell us about yourself

I’m Tyson Tolliver from East Preston, Nova Scotia, and my company is the African Nova Scotian Directory (ANSD). The ANSD aims to increase access, awareness and exposure of the African Nova Scotian community online via a digital platform that links all aspects of African Nova Scotian culture.

What has been your boldest business move?

To completely move away from using a generic subscription-based directory service to power the platform instead, working with a local Black web design company called Vinysoft.com in order to build a Progressive Web Application, also known as a PWA. This way, we will also own our own code. As a result, ANSD is on the verge of releasing its very own Progressive Web Application platform.

What are the biggest challenges and biggest opportunities for racialized entrepreneurs in the field of tech in Atlantic Canada?

I believe one of the biggest challenges faced by entrepreneurs is access to capital that will allow them to bring their dreams to reality without bias hindrance. I also believe one of the greatest opportunities for BIPOC in the Atlantic is that the Atlantic is a tech hub. Therefore, we have direct access to an industry that is known globally.

How can we come together to radically reimagine the ecosystem and disrupt systemic barriers so that racialized businesses – and their communities – can flourish?

I feel that this is a straightforward answer that we need to support BIPOC businesses. Not on occasion, but as a habit.

What’s your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Have unwavering confidence in all areas of your life. Believe in what you settled to accomplish, to be bigger than yourself. This way, when you are faced with obstacles, you will always be in a mindset ready to overcome them.

Check out our instagram page here to follow our diversity in tech series and learn more about Tyson’s work!