In order to advance equitable business opportunities for Black entrepreneurs, Shopify has joined the DMZ at Ryerson University as a founding partner of the Black Innovation Fellowship (BIF), a first-of-its-kind initiative in Canada.

With support from Shopify and other donors to the program, selected founders will gain access to high-calibre senior growth mentors; exclusive workshops designed to reflect the experience of Black entrepreneurs; a dedicated workspace in the heart of downtown Toronto; and the chance to work with influential investors, experts and more.   

“We’re committed to changing the face of entrepreneurship because we believe in a future with more voices not fewer,” said Shavonne Hasfal-Mcintosh, Diversity and Belonging Lead at Shopify. “DMZ’s fellowship program will improve access for Black entrepreneurs by providing a new path to success, which is another important way we’re helping independent business owners in Canada turn their big ideas into businesses.”

Black founders and early-stage entrepreneurs from across Canada tackling a compelling market or societal need are invited to apply to the program. The opportunity will be given to startups that have a robust business model, a collaborative leadership team and innovative ideas that can be turned into sustainable businesses.

“As Canada’s startup ecosystem goes through tremendous growth, it’s important to continue creating a more inclusive economy in which entrepreneurs from all backgrounds have an opportunity to reach their full potential,” said Abdullah Snobar, executive director, DMZ. “The Black Innovation Fellowship program will help startups gain access to capital, mentoring and networking to scale globally, and increase our country’s competitiveness.”

Support from Shopify and inaugural founding partner DreamMaker Ventures has contributed to the program, which has a total fundraising goal of $1,000,000.

Applications to the Black Innovation Fellowship are currently open. For more information, eligibility and to apply, visit dmz.ryerson.ca/bif

The DMZ is a leading business incubator for tech startups in Canada. They help startups build great businesses by connecting them with customers, capital, experts and a community of entrepreneurs and influencers.

The DMZ is a partner in StartUp Here Toronto.