Ryerson Alumni - Summer 2019 - 7

Find out what's going on at ryerson.ca/news-events/events

GIVING

Breaking down barriers
in startup community

"The committee is a direct
result of the report, a direct
result of a lot of work done,
setting out how we're going
to be working on the 50
recommendations," says
Joanne Dallaire, Shadow
Hawk Woman of the Wolf
Clan. "I like the diversity of
it, I like the professionalism
of it and I like the fact that
everyone is solution-focused.
Everyone is working together."
The group is developing an

integrated action plan around
the themes expressed in the
recommendations. Some of
the themes being addressed
include Indigenizing teaching
and learning practices,
improving support for
Indigenous learners and
increasing Indigenous staff
and faculty.
"I'm pleased to share that
Ryerson has set aside funds
specifically for Indigenous
faculty renewals and has

Diverse communities
continue to face barriers
in accessing lucrative
entrepreneurship
opportunities created
by Canada's burgeoning
technology-driven
innovation sector.
Black entrepreneurs,
in particular, encounter
steep challenges when
starting and growing a
business, from accessing
seed capital to having
fewer publicly recognized
role models.
Ryerson University,
in collaboration with
philanthropist and
founder of Dream
Maker Ventures Inc.
Isaac Olowolafe Jr., is
aiming to address these
challenges through the
creation of the Black
Innovation Fellowship
(BIF). The BIF will support
Black entrepreneur-led
startups by providing
support and mentorship
from successful
Black professionals,
technologists and startup
founders, and connecting
them to wider networks,
including the innovation
community, alumni and
investors. One of those
investors-Olowolafe
Jr.-has founded the only
venture capital fund in

Canada led by a team
of Black investors and
focused on startups with
diverse founders.
The Black Innovation
Fellowship was made
possible through
Olowolafe Jr.'s lead gift
of $200,000, and he
is working alongside
Ryerson to raise another
$800,000, for a total
fund of $1,000,000,
to launch and run the
program.
"My parents,
African immigrants,
constantly stressed the
importance of learning
and collaboration-the
education I received
in this city has always
inspired me to pay it
forward," said Olowolafe
Jr. "Creating the Black
Innovation Fellowship
with Ryerson felt like
another great way to
uplift the next generation
of entrepreneurs.
"Tech is moving
Toronto forward, so this
program will not only
help get Black founders a
foot in the door, but also
assist them in building
something great that can
create job opportunities
and provide economic
empowerment to
the community."

Summer 2019 / Ryerson University Magazine

7


http://www.ryerson.ca/news-events/events

Ryerson Alumni - Summer 2019

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