May 24, 2019
Shopify has partnered with Ryerson University’s DMZ to launch the Black Innovation Fellowship, a program aimed at promoting Black entrepreneurship in the Canadian innovation sector. The initiative will provide Black entrepreneurs with programming, mentorship, workspace, and workshops, which are designed to reflect the experiences of Black entrepreneurs. Gender equity is considered a key piece in the selection process for all companies accepted to the Fellowship. The DMZ has set an overall funding goal of C$1 million for this pioneering initiative.
The DMZ first announced the Fellowship last year alongside the co-founder of Toronto-Based Dream Maker Ventures, Isaac Olowolafe Jr., who personally made a C$200,000 donation to the initiative. While the DMZ has not disclosed the total donation amounts from Shopify and Dream Maker Ventures, it has stated that Shopify will arrange workshops for the fellowship that will be hosted by key members of its network.
“DMZ’s fellowship program will improve access for Black entrepreneurs by providing a new path to success,” said Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh, Diversity and Belonging Lead at Shopify. The fellowship has also gained the support of BMO and Canadian Women’s Foundation, who have joined on as founding partner and program champion, respectively. The DMZ’s executive director, Abdullah Snobar, stressed the importance of continuing to create a “more inclusive economy in which entrepreneurs from all backgrounds have an opportunity to reach their full potential.”
Applications for the Black Innovation Fellowship are currently open. Information regarding selection criteria and incubator resources can be found on DMZ’s website.
Author: Shadi Varkiani