‘We know everyone has potential’: Inside Canada’s only Black-focused tech incubator

The Black Innovation Programs at Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone offers mentorship, support, and training to Black tech professionals and entrepreneurs

Why It Matters

Despite comprising about 3.5 percent of Canada’s population, Black employees are only 2.6 percent of the tech sector’s workforce. Systemic racism in education, industry hiring, and access to capital are all part of the problem, but an incubator focused on holistically supporting Black professionals could make improvements.

Over the last eighteen months, Abdullah Snobar, executive director of Ryerson University’s DMZ (previously known as the Digital Media Zone), has watched hundreds of graduates make their way through a variety of programs run by perhaps the only Black-focused tech incubator in Canada. 

“They are incredibly driven,” Snobar says of Black tech leaders and professionals. “They have a hard hustle to get things done. They bring creative business ideas to the forefront. They are solving programs within their own communities that maybe you and I don’t know as much about — because we’re not living those problems daily.” 

Systemic racism in educational expectations, hiring, and access to capital have meant Black professionals are underrepresented in Canada’s tech workforce, especially within executive level positions. “There are many issues that deter a Black

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