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The Review

Three black founders you should know


Meet the moguls in making transforming Toronto’s tech scene

It’s no secret that Canada’s growing tech ecosystem suffers from a lack of diversity. For the country’s minority entrepreneurs, it can be challenging to find the right talent and even the resources needed to grow a business.

A 2017 report by Pitchbook, a U.S.-based investment firm, found that access to startup capital was one of the biggest impediments to black entrepreneurial success. What’s more, not-for-profit group Project Diane found black women, in particular, had a hard time raising upfront money. Between 2014 and 2017 black women founders made up less than 0.2 per cent of all venture deals during that time.

Despite these sobering facts,  Toronto’s black entrepreneurs are having a big impact on the local tech scene. Here are three local entrepreneurs who are transforming their respective industries.

Aisha Addo

Founder of DriveHer, a ride-share service that provides safe rides for women

Aisha Addo, a serial entrepreneur on a mission, is no stranger to hard work. Before launching DriveHer she created Power to Girls Foundation. The Canadian organization helps marginalized young women of colour find valuable mentorship and leadership opportunities.

Over the years her hard work has earned her a slew of impressive awards. However, it’s her most recent venture that has landed her on our list of top tech entrepreneurs. Last year she launched DriveHer, a new car service that offers women safe transportation around the city. The Uber-like company only hires female drivers and picks up female passengers.

DriveHer comes at a crucial time in the industry; several ridesharing companies are grappling with how to deal with sexual assault and domestic violence that primarily impacts female passengers.

Andray Domise

Founder of Techsdale, a community tech program for youth in Etobicoke

Andray Domise may not be known to Torontonians outside of tech, but his impact can be felt across the city.

“It’s really important to get young people exposed to this early. This the direction the economy is going. a lot of the jobs that are now going to be phased out.” @AndrayDomise

The communication director for The Black Business Association founded Techsdale, a community program that teaches at-risk youth how to code. The initiative started as a way to diversify Toronto’s tech scene but has slowly grown into a much-needed resource for at-risk teens in the area. The goal is to provide black youth new career paths and make a difference in an industry sorely lacking in diveristy. “We do this because we see how much potential exists in these areas,” he says.

Manu Kabahizi

Co-founder and CTO of Ulula, an analytics platform that provides companies with tools to monitor human rights risks

Manu Kabaizi, co-founder of Toronto-based Ulula, is helping make the world a better place through tech. His company’s platform is tackling a pervasive problem that impacts both big and small businesses: forced labour.

A recent report estimates that over 40 million people are victims of forced labour or modern slavery. In fact, forced labour has quickly become a global challenge, which the UN contributes to $150 billion in illicit profits and primarily impacts women, children, persons with disabilities and minorities around the world.

Ulula’s mobile platform helps combat forced labour overseas by letting businesses monitor human rights risks, and measure social and governance risks. It also helps employees share their insights instantly to help companies improve working conditions.