The DMZ’s Black Innovation Summit awards $50,000 CAD in funding to Black-led tech startups in Canada
Reyts Fintech Inc. takes home the grand prize of $20,000 CAD to simplify currency exchange for immigrants
Toronto, February 25, 2022 – The DMZ awarded $50,000 CAD in funding to Black-led tech startups at their annual Black Innovation Summit to continue fuelling the growth of an inclusive tech ecosystem in Canada.
A world-leading incubator, the DMZ hosted its second annual Black Innovation Summit where eight Black-led tech startups had the opportunity to pitch to a panel of judges for the chance to secure up to $20,000 CAD in grant funding. The winners for this year’s Black Innovation Summit included the following startup companies:
1st Place: Ayobami Macaulay Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Reyts Fintech Inc. – $20,000
2nd Place: Ruth Kasi Co-Founder of BeautyNBrushes – $10,000
3rd Place: Tony Colley Founder and CEO of Be One to Give – $5,000
An additional $15,000 CAD was distributed in grants to other high-potential startups including The GlobalPass, CarbonGraph, Language Immersion, Round the Block and Welkom-U. The annual summit, kicked off by Toronto Mayor John Tory, brought together the Black entrepreneurial community from across Canada to showcase Black innovation and highlight the importance of supporting Black startup founders in the tech ecosystem. Participating startups are graduates from the DMZ’s Black Innovation Bootcamp program and the Black Innovation Social Impact stream fuelled by Unilever Canada. These programs provided founders with hands-on support to scale business operations and make lucrative industry connections to take their business to the next level.
First place winner Reyts Fintech Inc. is a marketplace that allows individuals to swap currencies in a seamless and secure way, empowering users to easily exchange money and spend like a local. Ayobami Macaulay Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Reyts Fintech Inc. explained that their startup journey prior to joining the DMZ was strenuous and on the blink: “For a year and a half, Reyts experienced a lot of rejection largely because we were working to create a fintech solution that focused on supporting underserved communities in Canada — immigrants. The DMZ’s support, along with our partners, opened the doors for us to solve a pressing need for the immigrant community. We’ll be able to build the necessary systems and infrastructure for financially underserved communities, helping them build generational wealth.”
“We take tremendous pride in offering programming and support dedicated to elevating Black-identifying founders in tech and the program’s marquee event, the Black Innovation Summit, serves as a catalyst for our founders,” said Janey Buzugbe, Head of the Black Innovation Programs and Partnerships at the DMZ. “By putting capital directly into the hands of Black entrepreneurs, the DMZ is addressing one of the biggest obstacles the Black community faces — access to funding.”
“I strongly believe in the importance of supporting the Black entrepreneurial community and am honoured to have been a part of the DMZ’s Black Innovation Summit,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO of GroupM Canada and speaker at the summit. “Deliberate channels of support, investment, and elevation like this are the kinds of purposeful action that are needed to affect real change in Canada.”
Participating tech startups at the Black Innovation Summit represented a variety of sectors including food waste management, fintech, beauty, fraud prevention, edtech and more.
Black-identifying founders looking for hands-on, customized startup support to take their business to the next level can head over to dmz.to/BIP for more information on the DMZ’s Black Innovation Programs. The DMZ’s 6-week Bootcamp is currently accepting applications for its next cohort. Black founders accepted into the program receive a $5,000 grant upon entry to the program.
Luvy Hardy, The DMZ
About the DMZ’s Black Innovation Programs
The Black Innovation Programs is the first-in-Canada program to provide startups led by Black entrepreneurs with the strengthening support of a top university-based incubator network, as well as additional programming, mentorship, events, and connections to industry, capital and an alumni network, to support their success and growth.
About the DMZ
The DMZ is a leading startup incubator equipping the next generation of leading tech entrepreneurs with the tools needed to build, launch, and scale highly impactful startups. By providing connections to customers, coaching, capital, and a community, the DMZ’s customized approach helps innovators reach the next milestone in their entrepreneurial journey – whatever that might be. Through its award-winning programming, the DMZ has helped more than 670 startups raise $1.55 billion in capital and create 4,550+ jobs. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada with globally-accessible programming, the DMZ has a widely-recognized international presence with offices in Vietnam and India, and partnerships across North America, Latin America, Africa and Asia.