Black Innovation Programs

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 having fewer publicly recognized role models.

This is why Ryerson DMZ has joined forces with a community of Founding Partners to develop the Black Innovation Programs (BIP). The first-in-Canada programs 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.

Our programs


Rocket representing BIP-Phase-1

Talent Development

Launchpad is a free skills development platform and year-round program geared at building the next generation of successful tech entrepreneurs.

Open to learners of all ages anywhere in the world, Launchpad helps participants develop the personal and professional skills needed to kickstart their entrepreneurial journey.



Rocket representing BIP-Phase-2

Startup Development

Our six-week Bootcamp helps early-stage founders validate a business idea/market opportunity, and build a roadmap for implementation.

The Bootcamp gives founders exposure to elements of core DMZ programming and helps speed up startup development to qualify for our Black Innovation Fellowship.



Rocket representing BIP-Phase-3

Startup Acceleration

Our Incubator is an equity-based program that helps venture-backable startups grow over the course of 18 months. The DMZ takes a highly-customized approach to address every founder’s unique challenges.

Founders can apply through the Black Innovation Program to receive additional benefits on top of what all Incubator founders in the program receive.


Our partners

The Black Innovation Programs would not be possible without our partners' commitments. Thank you to these organizations and individuals for their unwavering support to strengthen Black entrepreneurship.

Inaugural Founding Partner & Programs Founder

Isaac Olowolafe Jr.

Founder and General Partner, Dream Maker Ventures
link to Dreamaker venture website

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.

Honorary Chairman

Ralph Lean

Distinguished Counsel in Residence, Ted Rogers School of Management

Honorary Chairman

Ralph E. Lean is a highly regarded business lawyer and a trusted advisor to clients that range from start-ups to global corporations. Since September 2011, Lean has been a distinguished counsel in residence at the Ted Rogers School of Management. In addition to his illustrious legal career at Heenan Blaikie and Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, he is currently counsel in the Toronto office of Gowlings. Lean also serves on the boards of many Canadian public and private companies, as well as several charities, foundations and civic groups, including the Canadian Advisory Board and Right to Play.

Representing our founding partners & supporters

Leslie J. Anderson

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

Newton Asare

BIP Co-founding Partner & Venture Partner, Dream Maker Ventures
picrure of Dreamaker logo

Paulette Senior

President & CEO, Canadian Women's Foundation
picture of Canadian Women

Shavonne Hasfal-Mcintosh

Diversity and Belonging Lead, Shopify
picture of shopify logo

Allies & advocates

BIP champions


Jahleel Jno-Baptiste Stewart

Black Innovation Program Assistant

Janey Buzugbe

Head, Black Innovation Programs and Partnerships

Natoya Abiola

Program Mentor

Tina Mbachu

Program Lead, Black Innovation Programs

BIP Entrepreneurs-in-Residence

Hackim Farrell

Cybersecurity, Product

Manu Kabahizi

Product, Fundraising
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