TORONTO, February 24, 2021 – Committed to empowering Black entrepreneurs across the province, the Ontario Government has announced today it is contributing $1.2 million to Ryerson’s DMZ Black Innovation Programs (BIP).
The investment will be spread out over three years, providing $400,000 to the program each year. The funds will primarily help the program’s Black Innovation Launchpad (BIL), which supports aspiring Black founders of all ages to develop the skills needed to kickstart their entrepreneurial journey.
Black founders often face systemic and challenging barriers when looking to start a business, which has led to an underrepresentation of Black founders in the tech ecosystem. They disproportionately receive less venture capital and funding, have the lowest participation rates in tech occupations and are among the lowest paid groups at tech companies in Canada. With this investment, Ontario is taking action to remove barriers and provide Black innovators with the resources to succeed and thrive in Ontario’s rapidly changing economy.
After an overwhelmingly positive response in contributions from individuals, corporate partners and government last year for BIP, Ryerson’s DMZ is honoured to receive additional funding from the Government of Ontario. The funding will widen the program’s scope and connect aspiring Black founders of all ages with the resources and tools they need to grow their business ideas and succeed in a competitive landscape.
“Ontario is committed to creating an economy that works for everybody. Our government is proud to support the Black Innovation Fellowship, a program that recognizes great business ideas, removes barriers, and helps them grow,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “Strengthening Black communities and businesses and creating new opportunities for aspiring Black entrepreneurs are part of Ontario’s plan to build a fairer and more inclusive economy.”
“Seeing continued support for BIP has been tremendous,” said Abdullah Snobar, Executive Director of the DMZ. “I believe that the momentum we are still building with the program, well after the historic events of 2020, is a testament to the monumental shift we are experiencing in the startup ecosystem.”
BIP’s rapid growth and success have allowed Ryerson’s DMZ to expand programming significantly, reaching Black innovators at different stages of their careers. The Black Innovation Launchpad, which launched in November of 2019, has seen great success with over 400 participants and 848 enrollments to date (participants can enroll for up to three courses). Upon graduating from Launchpad, participants often then turn to the next stage of programming, Ryerson’s DMZ Black Innovation Bootcamp, to execute on their business idea and apply learnings.
“During the local lockdown, I took the time to access and complete several of the courses on the Black Innovation Launchpad portal,” highlighted Michael Husbands, CEO of Global Tutoring Hub. “These courses were easy to access and simple to follow and included in-depth information on entrepreneurship essentials, Black innovation basics and COVID-19 resilience for startups. These courses proved invaluable in ensuring that our startup remained focused through a challenging period.” Husbands has since been accepted in the Ryerson’s DMZ Black Innovation Bootcamp, where he will validate his business idea and get the support to develop an MVP.
“The Black community has so much untapped potential,” added Isaac Olowolafe Jr., Founder of Dream Maker Ventures Inc., and BIP Founding Partner. “Black founders are often left underfunded and under-supported – the more we see this type of government support, the closer we get to closing the equity gap in entrepreneurship.”
“At Ryerson University, we are committed to creating an intentionally inclusive and equitable community that encourages people to be bold, break down barriers, and challenge the status quo,” said Mohamed Lachemi, President of Ryerson University. “The Ontario government’s investment in the Black Innovation Programs will empower entrepreneurs, help create a more equitable and inclusive startup ecosystem, and will help lead positive change in Ontario’s tech sector.”
“I’m truly inspired by the generosity the BIP has been witness to,” said Ralph Lean, Honourary Chairman of BIP. “Having the support of the Ontario Government is vital in making an impact, as filling the gap for Black entrepreneurs will not be accomplished by a single entity. This will take collaboration and the commitment of various valued partners.”
To make a donation to the Black Innovation Programs, please visit this link. Both personal and business contributions are welcome.
The Ontario Government released a special video announcement revealing their new contribution, please see the video linked here.
Luvy Hardy, DMZ
About The DMZ:
We help companies grow their business. That means when founders want a high-impact and highly-customized tech incubator program, they come to the DMZ. Ranked as the top university-based tech incubator in the world, the DMZ provides a launchpad for founders to build and scale fast. Bigger and bolder than any other program of its kind, the DMZ has been creating the next gen of game-changing, global businesses since 2010. To date, the DMZ has helped more than 400 startups raise $934+ million in capital and create 4,000+ jobs. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, the DMZ has a widely-recognized international presence with offices in Vietnam and India, and 70 partnerships around the world. Learn more at www.ryerson.ca/dmz
About Ryerson University:
Ryerson University is Canada’s leader in innovative, career-oriented education. Urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the University is home to more than 46,000 students, including 2,900 Master’s and PhD students, 3,800 faculty and staff, and over 200,000 alumni worldwide. For more information, visit ryerson.ca.