DMZ announces revamped programming for its Black Innovation Launchpad and welcomes Unilever Canada’s SheaMoisture as new partner
Skills development platform offers expertly curated content to support early-stage and aspiring Black entrepreneurs
The Black Innovation Launchpad was first announced in 2020 as a free online skills development platform geared at building the next generation of successful Black tech entrepreneurs. The re-introduction of the platform, which was officially made available to the community in February, includes a revamp to align with current ecosystem trends and the latest startup fundamentals. Topics include startup idea validation, leadership development, market research, setting SMART goals and more.
SheaMoisture is the program’s newest partner, joining forces with Toronto Metropolitan University’s tech incubator to empower Black entrepreneurs with expert-curated content sourced from Black founders and industry professionals. The revamped Black Innovation Launchpad will now facilitate in-person community workshops and networking events to bring Launchpad members together to dive into startup principles, foster peer-to-peer relationships and connect participants with the broader DMZ community. Since the re-launch, the platform has been able to expand its support to an additional 200 Black entrepreneurs.
In 2021, DMZ launched a social impact stream for Black entrepreneurs in partnership with Unilever Canada, SheaMoisture’s parent company. The program supported two cohorts of Black-led social enterprises, empowering them to scale business operations, make lucrative industry connections and build sustainable solutions to maximize their impact on the world.
“SheaMoisture is proud to be sponsoring DMZ’s Black Innovation Launchpad and is committed to investing in the Black Canadian Community,” said Maureen Kitheka, SheaMoisture’s Brand Manager. “This partnership is a powerful opportunity to fuel our mission of increasing the number of successful founders in the Black entrepreneurial ecosystem by supporting them at the earliest stages of their journey.”
“As a racialized woman in tech, I feel supported and encouraged to keep being active in this space no matter how difficult the learning curve has been,” said Ashleigh Addison, Black Innovation Launchpad participant. “I thank Launchpad for working alongside me every step of the way to bring not only my ideas but dreams to fruition.”
“We recognize that Black entrepreneurs are operating on a different playing field and have unique realities and needs,” said Sherif El Tawil, Senior Director of Programs and Global Operations at DMZ. “This course serves as a launching pad for the community to overcome any hesitations when building a business, and we’re glad SheaMoisture sees the value this platform provides.”
Black-identifying founders looking to jumpstart their business can enroll now at dmz.to/bip-launchpad.
Luvy Hardy, The DMZ
DMZ is a world-leading startup incubator based at Toronto Metropolitan University that equips the next generation of 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 790 startups raise $2.47 billion in capital and create 4,900+ jobs. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada with globally-accessible programming, the DMZ has a widely-recognized international presence with offices in Vietnam, India, and the U.S., and partnerships across North America, Latin America, Africa and Asia.
SheaMoisture is a global beauty and personal care leader committed to serving Black Communities through strategic investment and community give back. SheaMoisture recognizes the power of entrepreneurship in addressing racial inequality with the belief that commerce can bring true economic independence. With every purchase, you’re helping to fund investments that support funding for underserved entrepreneurs and Black business owners, entrepreneurial education, crisis response, equitable purchasing, and ethical sourcing. Shea butter is one of the brand’s core ingredients, praised for its hydrating and nourishing properties, and is sourced from women-led cooperatives in West Africa providing fair wages and creating economic opportunities. Shea Moisture is a global beauty leader in the hair care, bath, body, skin care and men’s categories and is distributed in retailers throughout the world. SheaMoisture is a subsidiary of Unilever.