Toronto-based Black business leaders you should know

Feb 2 2021, 8:06 am

To celebrate Black History Month, get to know Black business leaders in Toronto who are paving the way.

Some of these leaders are from the Black Innovation Fellowship (BIF), run by Ryerson’s The DMZ, which is meant to “empower the next wave of Black entrepreneurs.”

And others are part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Canada’s first Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP), which provides almost $221 million to help thousands of Black entrepreneurs across the country.

All of the leaders are addressing various needs in tech, finance, and business.

Bashir Khan & Alexandra McCalla

Bashir Khan (left), Alexandra McCalla (right). Photos are from AirMatrix’s website.

Khan and McCalla are the founders of AirMatrix, which builds the 3D network of drone roads with industry-leading millimetre precision.

Khan is a technology entrepreneur and is part of the Transport Canada working group on UTM, the RPAS Traffic Management Action Team (RTMAT), as well as Canada’s mirror committee on drone standards for the International Standards Organization. He is also a member of NASA’s working group on transformational vertical flight, specifically for public services.

McCalla is an expert in business transformation for technology. She has also worked at numerous scaling tech start-ups in Toronto and Silicon Valley, and has experience in strategy, product management, operations, and client services/sales.

Zeze Peters

LinkedIn

Peters is the founder and CEO at Beam.city, a next-gen ads automation platform that helps businesses plan, automate, and optimize their digital ads. It simplifies advertising, allowing companies to better reach clients on more channels.

Edgar Brown

LinkedIn

Brown is the co-founder and CEO of FitDrive Inc., a software company that helps trainers and gym owners digitize their business, while their mobile app helps trainers train clients and deliver remote workouts. FitDrive is backed by NEXT Canada, the Ryerson DMZ and the McGill X-1 Accelerator.

Armel Beaudry 

LinkedIn

Beaudry is the founder of Trebble FM, a platform to help media organizations create, distribute and monetize interactive newscasts. Beaudry was born in Douala, Cameroon, Africa, and moved to Canada to study software engineering at the University of Ottawa. He has over seven years of experience designing and building enterprise software in international companies like Nokia.

Kerin John

BlackOwned Toronto website

John is the founder of BlackOwnedTO, an online directory to find Black-owned businesses in Canada. The business also opened a studio that offers Black creatives and photographers space to produce their work and other business leaders to have their photos professionally taken.

Adeela Carter and Amoye Henry

Adeela Carter (left) and Amoye Henry (right). Carter’s photo (LinkedIn) and Henry’s photo (Pitch Better website).

Carter and Henry are the co-founders of Pitch Better Canada, which helps bridge the gap for women-led start-ups and supports them with access to grants, investments, and connecting entrepreneurs with professionals through workshops. Through the company’s national research study, FoundHers, they identify the tools needed to help women entrepreneurs.

Andria Barrett

The Diversity Agency

Barrett is the founder of The Diversity Agency, a Toronto-based full-service talent booking agency that represents speakers from diverse backgrounds. They connect speakers with organizations, events and conferences looking for speakers for their next event.

Barrett is a speaker, entrepreneur, caregiver and nutritionist specializing in Blood Sugar Balance – “a major factor in preventing prediabetes and creating optimal brain health.”

Shavonne Hasfal-McIntosh

LinkedIn

Hasfal-McIntosh is the Diversity and Belonging Lead at Shopify, which guides the company to create an inclusive environment that allows them to attract, grow and retain “high impact people globally.”

“Belonging is at the core of what we do. We continuously strive for all employees to experience this fundamental human need throughout their entire journey at Shopify,” according to Hasfal-McIntoshs’ LinkedIn.

Newton Asare

LinkedIn

Asare was the co-founder and CEO of ClientDesk, an InsurTech startup that was acquired by Trufla Technologies. He is also the co-founder and Director of Dream Insurance and ClaimCast. As a founder, he has participated in incubator and accelerator programs such as the DMZ, DMZ Ventures, and the Plug and Play accelerator in the Bay area.

Newton is currently serving as the Senior Manager, Global Innovation and Fintech Partnerships at Scotiabank.

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