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Program launched to scale high-potential black-led tech start-ups

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Dream Legacy Foundation and the DMZ join forces to launch Black Innovation Connections

Dream Legacy Foundation and the DMZ have announced a new three-month program designed to support high-potential Black founders looking to accelerate start-up 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 start-ups 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 start-ups 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.

Source: DMZ

“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.”


Help eliminate the barriers

The program’s inaugural cohort will kick off on February 14, 2022, with 15 selected Black-led tech start-ups. 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 start-up 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.”

Next wave of Black-led start-ups

“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 start-ups 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.



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