Founder and CEO of Power To Girls Foundation and DriveHER Inc.
Aisha Addo is the founder of Power To Girls Foundation, a non-profit organization that offers young girls mentors and role models. As a facilitator and director of Power To Girls, she uses her personal experiences and knowledge to create safe and engaging spaces for the girls she works with. She is a recipient of the Young Black and Gifted Award for Community Service and was also named a Black Diversity Group Role Model and One of 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada and among the 150 Black Women making history in Toronto. DriveHER, the ride-sharing service for women by women, is her latest initiative and has officially launched in Toronto last week! Aisha is GBC Alumni, completing an Advanced Diploma in Business Administration Accounting.
We had the opportunity to ask Aisha some questions about her entrepreneurial journey!
Aisha, what’s your educational background?
I actually studied at George Brown. I studied Business Admin accounting and graduated in 2013.
What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
To be honest, I don’t think I set out to become an entrepreneur. I think I just recognized a certain issue and the space was not very welcoming or very inclusive to other options. And I wanted to be the one to create that option, so I normally like to refer to myself as the accidental entrepreneur. I think entrepreneurship is something that I just fell into – it wasn’t something that I planned or set out to become.
Why did you create the Power To Girls Foundation and DriveHER Inc.?
Both were a result of my own personal experiences. So for Power To Girls, I actually started Power To Girls when I was at George Brown and it was because I realized that there wasn’t a lot of mentors out there for girls from marginalized backgrounds; there weren’t spaces for them to talk about the things that they were suffering from on a day to day basis. So that sort of started Power To Girls. And one of the things that I realized when I started was that the girls provided me as well with a mentorship, you know? So it sort of became a bit of like a two way scenario – it wasn’t just one sided– they were also really encouraging me and inspiring me, and keeping me accountable. And DriveHER, sort of in a way also grew from [inaudible] Power To Girls because I became a support person for the girls that participated in my program – I became their mentor, their big sister, but then I also became their designated driver, so I’m trying more [inaudible] and when I recognized that yeah, there’s – based off of my personal experience in a taxi – there wasn’t a lot of conversations happening around safety for women in transportation spaces, right? And how women interact with transportation on a day to day basis. So it really inquired that for me to bring something that was already happening in other parts of the world to Canada, and that’s just what I did.
How successful is the Power To Girls Foundation and DriveHER Inc.?
Well, Power To Girls has been running for around 7 years now. We have a partnership with the Toronto Catholic School Board, we are funded by the Ontario trillium foundation through their youth of a training prize; [inaudible] we usually are in about four schools [inaudible] in ward one, and every year we host a leadership conference with the Toronto Catholic School Board, so that’s some of our highlights so far. With DriveHER, we did our BETA in March but we’re doing our full launch in the Fall. We’ve been able to get a partnership with Infinity Canada. We’ve also nabbed a couple of partnerships with other resources and folks in the startup space. We have a partnership with Rover parking, we have a partnership with Weel. We have over 3000 waiting customers. We have over 60 drivers on our platform. So really, we’re still growing – we’re still fairly new – so there’s still a lot of stuff that we hope to achieve. But then yeah, with those highlights also comes with lowlights. But we’re looking forward to what the future has for us.
What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
What I would say is stay true to yourself and the vision that you have for whatever it is that you’re trying to do. But also, in your quest to stay true to yourself, always listen to your customers. They will give you the best insights that you could possibly ever get. So those are the two things I would say: stay true to yourself and listen to your customers. But do not forget your ‘why’.