Last fall, the DMZ at Ryerson University welcomed several new partners supporting the expansion of its Black Innovation Fellowship (BIF) program. With contributors like Scotiabank, Accenture, TELUS Ventures and Magna International, the DMZ aims to raise the profile of the program, broaden its scope to reach Black youth, and create more opportunities for Black women in tech and entrepreneurship in Canada.
Launched in May 2019, the BIF program creates opportunities for Black founders in the tech industry and improves Black representation within Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. The additional partners will also enable founders within existing programs to receive more direct support, including time with DMZ’s entrepreneurs-in-residence and better access to grant opportunities and dedicated resources.
Isaac Olowolafe Jr., founder of Dream Maker Ventures Inc., and BIF founding partner, explains the need to keep up the momentum. “The events of 2020 have been heartbreaking and tragic, but they’ve also led to the creation of a perfect storm for activism and social change. Why stop now? We will continuously encourage those who are looking for ways to promote a more diverse and inclusive startup ecosystem, and stand in solidarity against racial injustice,” Olowolafe said.
“As an institution dedicated to equity, diversity and inclusion, providing support, improving access and removing barriers for our Black community members is a key part of creating a more equitable campus community,” said Mohamed Lachemi, Ryerson’s president and vice-chancellor.
“The Black Innovation Fellowship is a prime example of that kind of commitment in action—both educating leaders and allowing them to make a tangible impact in helping underrepresented entrepreneurs.”