Black Innovation Fellowship


Empowering the next wave of Black entrepreneurs

Accelerate your dreams.

Underrepresented communities continue to face barriers in accessing lucrative entrepreneurship opportunities created by Canada's burgeoning technology-driven innovation sector. Black entrepreneurs in particular, encounter steep challenges when starting and growing a business, from accessing seed capital to fewer publicly recognized role models.

This is why Ryerson DMZ has joined forces with a community of Founding Partners to develop the Black Innovation Fellowship (BIF). The first in Canada fellowship program will provide startups led by Black entrepreneurs with the strengthening support of a top university-based incubator network, as well as additional programming, mentorship, events, and connections to industry, capital and an alumni network, to support their success and growth.

What You Get

Over the course of the fast-paced program, selected teams will work closely with dedicated, experienced industry experts and mentors in an embedded environment and will have access to:

Growth and digital experts

Hands-on coaching from high-calibre, experienced senior mentors

Connections

The chance to meet and network with influential investors, experts and researchers

Programming

Exclusive workshops, conferences and deep dive sessions by Canada's leading experts

Workspace

Dedicated workspace in the heart of downtown Toronto and access to exclusive resources

Accommodations

Access to affordable housing in downtown Toronto

Selection Criteria



Incubator

  • A business dedicated to solving a compelling problem using innovative technology
  • At least one full-time founder
  • A driven, coachable, and collaborative leadership team
  • Must have the ability to manage the product directly
    • Have a CTO or in-house technical lead or show a clear path to moving a part time lead onboard full time
  • An MVP that has some form of market validation
    • Startups that are identified as having a marketplace business model must demonstrate a unique value proposition, paying customers and clear defensibility in their application as validation due to the highly competitive nature of marketplaces.
  • The potential to grow and scale sufficiently to reach the eligibility criteria for our growth accelerator

Accelerator

  • A startup dedicated to solving a compelling problem using innovative technology
  • At least one FTE dedicated to sales and revenue development
  • A driven, coachable and collaborative leadership team
  • A full-time CTO or in-house technical lead
  • A minimum of $20K in monthly revenue through an existing customer network
  • Be in market and demonstrate steady revenue for at least four consecutive months
  • An established product-market fit and at least one client that we can verify
  • Able to relocate to the DMZ’s Toronto office for the duration of the program

*Gender equity will be a key piece in our selection process for all companies accepted to the Black Innovation Fellowship

Ready to accelerate your dreams?
Apply Now.

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Black Innovation Fellowship Bootcamp

In the past year, we learned that there is a large pool of aspiring Black entrepreneurs who have not yet built out a product but have incredible business ideas. This is why we have just launched a bootcamp program for 20 Black founders in the effort of transitioning these founders to the DMZ full-time programs.

Applications are currently closed for the Black Innovation Fellowship Bootcamp. Click here to leave us your email and be the first to hear when applications re-open!

Inaugural Founding Partner & Program Founder



Isaac Olowolafe Jr.

Founder and General Partner, Dream Maker Ventures

Inaugural Founding Partner

Dream Maker Ventures (DMV) is the investment arm of Dream Maker Corp. (DMC), a Toronto-based vertically integrated asset management firm founded in 2003. With divisions in real estate, development, property management, and insurance, DMC has a total of half a billion AUM. The DMV Diversity Fund is an early-stage fund that primarily invests in under-represented, diverse founders such as racial minorities, women, persons with disabilities and indigenous entrepreneurs across North America.

Representing our Founding Partners & Supporters



Leslie J. Anderson

Global Head of Enterprise Technology, Employee Experience, BMO Financial Group

Newton Asare

BIF Co-founding Partner & Venture Partner, Dream Maker Ventures

Paulette Senior

President & CEO, Canadian Women's Foundation

Shavonne Hasfal-Mcintosh

Diversity and Belonging Lead, Shopify

ChangeMaker Partners



Visionary Partner



BIF Entrepreneurs-in-Residence



Manu Kabahizi

Board Member, Ulula

Robleh Jama

Senior Product Lead, Shopify

Programs Lead



Gbemi Akande

Program Lead, Accelerator
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