Introducing the Black Innovation Program Social Impact Stream and its inaugural cohort of startups
Social entrepreneurship has become a rapidly-growing approach to business, and for a good reason – social entrepreneurs are pioneers focused on tackling some of the world’s biggest societal issues.
Together, Unilever Canada and the DMZ have launched the Black Innovation Program’s (BIP) Social Impact Stream: a 6-month business incubator program designed to support Black entrepreneurs with a social mission. The program allows entrepreneurs to tap into lucrative industry connections and growth resources to build on their existing solutions and ultimately drive impact in Canadian communities.
Over the course of the 6-month program, socially-driven organizations are equipped with the tools, mentorship and community needed to generate company growth while accelerating their ability to create meaningful change and contribute to their core mission.
Hear from the founders of companies in the inaugural cohort of the BIP Social Impact Stream on how they’re working to drive social impact, and what they’re hoping to achieve for their organizations over the course of the program.
B12Give creates a circular economy redistributing lost or wasted surplus food along the supply chain to food-insecure communities and support agencies across Canada. Tony Colley, the company’s Founder and CEO, explains that B12Give leverages a sustainable, tech-based solution to lower the overall cost of food waste, reduce GHG emissions, and reduce the overuse of our natural resources while feeding millions.
The company has big plans they’d like to accomplish over the next six months. According to Tony, the company hopes to scale the app across the GTA, expand its executive team, activate partners with locations in different markets, and secure an angel investor.
Detailing Knights provides an eco-friendly and waterless mobile auto detailing and car cleaning service. In terms of driving impact, Ryan Knight, CEO, explains the company’s purpose goes beyond just car detailing.
“What we are most proud of is our Youth Entrepreneurship training program, which empowers youth coming out of detention an opportunity to run their own detailing business while exploring various areas of entrepreneurship.”
Ryan explains that the company’s next objectives include creating a roadmap for a new product line and upskilling their current team. “Doing this helps us bring in support to fine-tune our operations in preparation for licensing our brand outside of Ontario, across Canada, and into the U.S.”
EduCare’s global mission is to improve graduation outcomes for students with disabilities through a tech-enabled platform that connects colleges/universities and health care providers. Fowzia Mahamed, the company’s Founder, explains that the company provides an opportunity for schools to improve graduation rates for students with disabilities.
The company hopes to develop its knowledge base in building a go-to-market strategy, including a pilot for licensing the software as a service platform in collaboration with colleges/universities and community health centres.
Over the next six months, Educare aims to set up a pilot with two colleges and community health centres and to license a beta version of the EduCare software as a service platform.
eimhe is a wellness management platform for the workplace. Jefferson Roc, the company’s Founder, hopes to increase emotional intelligence amongst people and their communities.
“I applied to the BIP Social Impact Stream because I believe our concept can help solve challenges around mental illness and addiction. We want to fill the gaps in our go-to-market strategy and ensure we cover our blind spots.”
Jeffer explains that the company’s next milestones include bringing their MVP to market, conducting their first proof of concept and securing $150K in non-dilutive grant funding.
Jesina Studios works with refugee women in Toronto to design and develop handmade, customizable, and high-quality home decor and gifts.
“We believe this program will help us provide stable employment and professional development for refugee women who typically experience employment barriers in Canada,” explains Samantha Simunyu, one of Jesina Studios’s Co-founders.
The company hopes to refine its product offering, develop a go-to-market strategy and build meaningful relationships with other social innovators throughout the program.
MakeRoom empowers marginalized and emerging artists with the resources to reach broader audiences and funding opportunities through various means, including projection installations.
Trevor Twells, the company’s CEO and Founder, explains that MakeRoom’s main mission is to provide funding and exposure for emerging BIPOC artists in particular.
The BIP Social Impact Stream will help the company scale up its regular operations to have more venue partners. The company aims to finalize its advertising revenue model, make industry connections to create advertising partnerships, and receive mentorship that will advise the founding team on how to reframe these partnerships and discover other monetization models.
OffTech aims to make high-quality education accessible to students in rural Canada in areas with no broadband connection. “We applied for the BIP Social Impact Stream because we believe the mentorship, connections, and tools we’ll receive from this program will offer valuable insights into the feasibility of our proposed solution.” says Ayman Abdulkadir, Co-founder of OffTech.
Over the next six months, OffTech hopes to validate its solution of making high-quality education accessible in rural Canada.
Outlit helps to educate the next generation of banking clients and ultimately aims to drive impact by helping new immigrants obtain financial freedom and a higher quality of life. Josh Earle, the company’s Founder & CEO, explains that he applied to the BIP Social Impact Stream “to connect with, and learn from, like-minded entrepreneurs that are trying to represent the underrepresented collective of people.”
The company aims to fully launch its product, obtain over 250 users, and partner with nonprofits, schools, and financial institutions over the next six months.
Redeem Clothing Recycling is a for-profit company that provides a platform to donate used clothing items from the comfort of users’ homes.
Oghenemine Jarikre, the company’s Founder, diverts clothing waste in Canada and upcycles them into fashion accessories on the company’s platforms. Oghenemine hopes to increase human capacity, raise funding and improve donations through the program.
“I applied for the program to learn more about growing and running my startup. I believe the DMZ can provide the visibility my company needs, the right partnership, resources, and funding,” explains Oghenemine.
Reyts builds inclusive fintech solutions via a marketplace that allows users from minority communities to access and exchange underserviced currencies in a seamless and secure way.
Through the Black Innovation Program Social Impact Stream, Reyts hopes to bring the application to life by tapping into more financial services that can bring much-needed change to the payments space for immigrant communities.
According to Ayobami Macaulay, the company’s Co-Founder, Reyts aims to regularize its compliance stance in Canada, onboard a banking partner and a payment service provider, and onboard the company’s first 1000 users within the next six months of the program.
Solooble is a mobile app that helps users monitor their financial commitments in real-time to keep on track with saving goals and never miss another bill payment. Lemuel Barango, the company’s Co-founder, hopes to reduce financial anxiety among Canadians.
“I applied to Black Innovation Program to contribute to, and benefit from, a network of Black innovators trying to drive social impact,” Lemuel explains. The company’s business goal for the next six months is to increase its user base to 500 users.
The Urban Guide (TUG) is an app that offers semi-virtual games and self-guided city tours that strengthen the urban cultural connection. The SaaS product enables rapid learning using gamification and predictive self-guided walking tours to enhance the familiarity of new cities and reduce culture shock.
Peter Odle, Founder of TUG explains he hopes to broaden his business knowledge, obtain the tools necessary to validate TUG, and surround himself with a group of Black entrepreneurs who embody a success mindset.
The Urban Guide hopes to grow their international Black business network by 200%, secure 5 additional institutional customers, and enhance the app UX to facilitate easier onboarding and user accessibility within 5 seconds.
We Funded It provides Afro Canadians with financial and mentorship resources for educational and entrepreneurship development. “I want to gain access to the DMZ network and raise funding to drive my organization forward,” explains Diana White, the company’s Founder and President. “We also hope to apply for charity status with the Canadian government and develop a corporate sponsorship program.”
We Funded It drives social impact by making finance-free funding and tailored mentorship accessible to improve economic empowerment, mental health, and overall well-being in Canada’s Black community.
Welkom-U provides pre-arrival settlement services to drive retention and grow the population of newcomers using technology. Tosin Ajibola, the company’s Co-founder & CEO, explains that fertility decline and population out-migration have resulted in a rapidly aging population in Atlantic Canada.
“We are using our technology and resources to attract a younger demographic, facilitate and encourage retention, and ultimately aid population growth,” explains Tosin. “As a Black-identifying tech and social entrepreneur, I’m hoping to network and understand how BIPOC are fairing in metro cities, and learn how to incorporate my findings in emerging cities in Canada.”
Interested in learning more about the BIP Social Impact Stream and keeping up with these companies? Read more here.
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By the DMZ, Tech Incubator January 19, 2022