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Dream Legacy Foundation and the DMZ join forces to launch new program built to scale high-potential Black-led tech startups

Black Innovation Connections provides Black founders across Canada with a track-based coaching program and $5,000 grants to fuel business growth 


TORONTO, February 10, 2022 –
Dream Legacy Foundation and the DMZ have announced a new three-month coaching program designed to support high-potential Black founders looking to accelerate startup growth. 

Supported by a $3-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), and the Black Entrepreneurship Program Ecosystem Fund, the Black Innovation Connections program (Connections) will provide Black founders with a track-based coaching program customized to address their unique needs and the business barriers Black-led startups often face. Participating founders will receive a $5,000 business grant upon acceptance into the program.

A first-in-Canada program, the DMZ’s Black Innovation Programs (BIP) was established to provide Black-led startups with the strengthening support of a top incubator network, as well as the programming, mentorship, events, and connections to industry and capital, to support their success. The newly launched Connections program will focus on helping Black founders establish product-market fit, attract talent and secure investment funds.

“Through the Black Entrepreneurship Program Ecosystem Fund, the Government of Canada is ensuring the Dream Legacy Foundation has the support they need to provide Black entrepreneurs in southern Ontario with tailored, expert advice and resources as part of its Black Innovation Connections programming,” said the Honourable Helena Jaczek, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. “This important investment through FedDev Ontario is another example of our government’s ongoing commitment to drive diverse and inclusive economic growth in our communities.”

The program’s inaugural cohort will kick off on February 14, 2022, with 15 selected Black-led tech startups. Darace Rose, Founder and Chief Revenue Officer at Oppos, was accepted into the first cohort and is eager to get started. “Oppos is honoured to be a part of the Black Innovation Connections inaugural cohort,” Darace shared. “Getting the chance to work alongside like-minded founders from the BIP community and having a front-row seat to the innovative Black-led solutions that are being launched on the market will be extremely valuable to our growth and development.”

Isaac Olowolafe Jr., Founder of Dream Legacy Foundation, described his experience as a Black founder and his hopes for Canada’s startup landscape: “As an entrepreneur, I understand the barriers that budding Black founders in Canada face in growing their businesses. Through our entrepreneurship programs and partnerships, Dream Legacy Foundation seeks to help eliminate these barriers, scale Black-owned businesses and drive inclusivity in Canada’s early-stage entrepreneurial ecosystem. We dream of a Canada in which there are Black-owned gazelles and unicorns.” 

“The time is now. We’re thrilled to be expanding our Black Innovation Programs, and have no doubt that Connections will unlock even more opportunities for Black founders,” said Janey Buzugbe, Head of the Black Innovation Programs and Partnerships at the DMZ. “Support from the Government of Canada will help the DMZ and Dream Legacy Foundation empower the next wave of Black-led startups through coaching, mentorship and financial support — resources that have been systematically inaccessible to the Black community for far too long.”

Participating founders will receive peer-to-peer and mentorship sessions, exclusive access to DMZ events, access to office and hotel space, loan assessment opportunities, pitch opportunities through Black Innovation Capital and a $5,000 grant.

To learn more about the program and apply, please visit dmz.to/BIC. The Winter 2022 cohort intake has commenced, however eligible startups are welcome to apply for a late start.

 

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Media contacts
Luvy Hardy, The DMZ
luvy.hardy@ryerson.ca

Monica Granados, FedDevOntario
monica.granados@feddevontario.gc.ca

Yeukai Mudzi, Dream Legacy Foundation
Yeukai@dreamlegacy.org 

 About the DMZ:

The DMZ is a leading startup incubator equipping the next generation of leading tech entrepreneurs with the tools needed to build, launch, and scale highly impactful startups. By providing connections to customers, coaching, capital, and a community, the DMZ’s customized approach helps innovators reach the next milestone in their entrepreneurial journey – whatever that might be. Through its award-winning programming, the DMZ has helped more than 650 startups raise $1.55 billion in capital and create 4,500+ jobs. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada with globally-accessible programming, the DMZ has a widely-recognized international presence with offices in Vietnam and India, and partnerships across North America, Latin America, Africa and Asia.

About Dream Legacy Foundation:

The Dream Legacy Foundation (DLF) is a philanthropic organization that serves as a diversity and an inclusion social thought leader advocating for the millions of talented Black Citizens and historically underrepresented communities. Through collaboration and partnerships, DLF runs innovative programs to boost entrepreneurship within the Black Community. One of its most successful programs is Canada’s first Black Innovation Fellowship, a program launched in partnership with leading incubator DMZ, helping Black-founded startups access capital, customers, and a broader entrepreneurial community. Learn more by visiting the DLF website.

About FedDev Ontario:

For more than 12 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation and growth in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving their productivity, growing their revenues, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects.

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