Liftoff is the region’s first and only Black-led incubator and accelerator program for Black early-stage and growth entrepreneurs. It was made possible by Government of Canada funding through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). The almost $3-million contribution from the Black Entrepreneurship Program (BEP) Ecosystem Fund will support the Caribbean Canadian Association of Waterloo Region (CCAWR) in partnership with the University of Waterloo, Conestoga College, Wilfrid Laurier University and the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre.
LiftOff Director, Dr. Trevor Charles, says he is, “amazed by the team we have been able to build up in a very short time, the programming that we have been able to put together, and the diversity and quality of the applicants to the program.” Dr. Charles is also a professor of biology at the University of Waterloo.
Ainsley Deer, Bolatito Alawode, Felipe Gonzalia, Jenell Valentine, Nickadian Edmondson, Pearl-Catherine Tita, Raechele Lovell, Rochelle Williams, Sean Ramsay, Sonya Denton, Suzanne . Phillips, Tessy Obasuyi make up the first cohort of 12 Black entrepreneurs participating in program.
The group brings together a diverse collection of both technology and non-technology businesses from a wide range of industries.
“Entrepreneurship includes all types of businesses, and for this reason it is important for us to be as inclusive as possible”
– Dr. Trevor Charles
The program’s structure includes four phases that are three months long. After completing the first phase, participants have the option to continue in the incubator for the full 12 months. Areas of focus include ideation and market validation, building and launching, positioning for success, and transitioning to community.
Missed out on the first Cohort? Not to worry! Applications for Cohort 2 are open now through March 4th, 2022.