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DMZ joins forces with Amex Canada for a third year to empower underrepresented small business owners across Canada

Entrepreneurs can now apply to Blueprint: Backing Businesses™ for extensive mentorship support and $10,000 grants to drive business growth.

TORONTO, November 21, 2023
– ​​In partnership with American Express Canada, DMZ is thrilled to announce the return of Blueprint: Backing Businesses™, a mentorship and grant program designed to support small business owners who identify as Black, Indigenous or People of Colour across Canada. Starting today, eligible business owners in Canada can apply to be selected to receive one of 50 grants of $10,000 each to help fuel their next stage of growth. Selected recipients will also be offered access to a mentorship, coaching and networking program made possible by a grant from the American Express Foundation. Interested entrepreneurs can review program eligibility and apply today at

“After two successful program waves, we’re thrilled to be welcoming a brand-new cohort of deserving small businesses across Canada to the program,” said Brett Mooney, President and CEO of American Express Canada. “It’s an honour to provide entrepreneurs with the backing, resources, and network they need to excel, and we look forward to seeing what we can do together next.”

A powerful springboard for growth

As part of the company’s long-standing global ‘Backing Small’ initiatives, Blueprint Backing Businesses was introduced with the goal of providing financial support and resources to underrepresented small business owners in Canada. A survey of 2022 program recipients revealed that the program had a positive impact on their businesses, with 93 per cent of companies reporting that the program was “significant or vital” to their business success. A further 85 per cent of companies indicated they were on track to meeting business milestones, with close to three-quarters (74 per cent) reporting they introduced new products, services, and offerings over the course of the program.

Among the 2022 program participants was Nevell Provo, the Founder of Halifax-based Smooth Meal Prep, a nationwide food delivery and catering service. The program provided him with the funding needed to upgrade his company’s website and a dedicated mentor who helped him identify cost-saving measures and adjust the business’s pricing structure. “The program taught me the importance of financial discipline and effective budgeting. With my mentor’s guidance, I learned to allocate resources more efficiently and track financial metrics to make informed decisions,” said Nevell Provo, Founder of Smooth Meal Prep

Tailored programming with curated mentors

Blueprint: Backing Businesses offers a wide range of programming options for participants, including group workshops, small group learning sessions and 1:1 sessions with mentors and seasoned entrepreneurs. Topics cover key areas such as leadership, strategic planning and operations management, in addition to providing participants with tailored strategies for success in response to industry-specific challenges.

Powered by DMZ, the world-leading tech incubator plays an instrumental role in delivering both infrastructure and programming support across all stages of the program.

“Together with Amex, we’re thrilled to kick off another year of this program and support small business owners across Canada who are breaking new barriers in entrepreneurship,” said Abdullah Snobar, Executive Director, DMZ. “With improved access to funding, mentorship, and resources to inspire growth, Blueprint: Backing Businesses continues to play an integral role in helping underrepresented entrepreneurs build a strong foundation for long-term success.”

Starting today, business owners can apply for Blueprint: Backing Businesses by visiting: Applications close December 13, 2023 EDT.


American Express is a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. American Express was established in Canada in 1853 and offers a variety of consumer and business products. Learn more at and connect with us on FacebookTwitterYouTube and Instagram.

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, DMZ’s customized approach helps innovators reach the next milestone in their entrepreneurial journey – whatever that might be. Through its award-winning programming, DMZ has helped more than 820 startups raise $2.55 billion in capital and create 5,000+ jobs. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, with globally-accessible programming, 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. Learn more at

Media contacts
Nicola McGroarty, American Express Canada

Luvy Hardy, DMZ

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