Black Dollar Magazine


For Black entrepreneurs, creatives, decision-makers and executives

Sign up for FREE BDM newsletter

Black Founders Network celebrates year one, recognizes 11 startups owned by Black entrepreneurs

Olugbenga Olubanjo, the founder of Reeddi, took home the top Venture Award prize at the event.

Black Founders Network celebrates year one, recognizes 11 startups owned by Black entrepreneurs
Photo by Julia Spina / Unsplash

The Black Founders Network (BFN) recently celebrated its first anniversary with more than 200 business owners, investors, mentors, students, and community supporters at the University of Toronto.

Olugbenga Olubanjo, the founder of Reeddi, took home the top Venture Award prize at the event. Funding awards also went to startups, Fyyne, HDAX Therapeutics, Woo Your Boo, and Elev.

“What brought me to the BFN was the community of like-minded founders all working to build amazing things,” Olugbenga Olubanjo, founder of Reeddi, one of 11 startups to complete the BFN Accelerate’s four-month bootcamp, said in a statement.

“The community is designed to help us grow, find solutions to challenges, and meet our desired outcomes. What I loved most was learning from the experts who engaged with us through BFN Accelerate.”

Since its inception, the BFN has organized and sponsored over 30 events, interacted with over 50 mentors and advisors, and benefited from the support of over 20 community and corporate organizations, including new corporate donor KPMG, which announced at the event that it would provide grants to Black founders in the early stages of their businesses.

BFN also highlighted six BFN Accelerate startups to watch in the future. They include:

AfterData AI

Co-founded by U of T alumnus Anu Oladele, Afterdata AI enables organizations to understand their data by helping them access, connect and explore existing datasets in easy and interactive ways. The AI startup recently raised $250,000 in funding from a U.S.-based venture capital firm.


Founded by U of T alumna and social entrepreneur Rae Massop, Aworie provides convenient, affordable and accessible mental health services for marginalized Canadians. The health care startup recently crossed the 500-customer mark with quickly growing revenues.

Blair + Jack

Dr. Bimpe Ayeni, a board-certified plastic surgeon and U of T lecturer in the department of surgery in the Temerty Faculty of Medicine, co-founded Blair + Jack to address common skincare problems experienced by men and simplify the process of having physician-formulated skincare delivered without a prescription. The startup recently won the Ella Express Pitch Contest and got onto the shelves of Black Owned Toronto at Scarborough Town Centre.


Co-founded by U of T alumni Melisa Ellis, Malcolm Wright and Chevon Riley, NobelHub connects startups and existing businesses with the essential services they need to grow and scale their ventures. Initially focused on the Black community, it is a one-stop-shop that offers legal, accounting, marketing, technology development and business planning services.


Launched by U of T alumnus Chevon Riley, NORM provides natural cosmetics to individuals seeking an alternative to synthetic products with questionable ingredients. The organic skincare startup wants customers to know exactly what they put on their bodies, so it handcrafts its almond balm with only natural ingredients, tailoring its formula for those with dry or sensitive skin. NORM recently won the UTSC Hub Pitch Competition with a $5,000 prize.

Yuko AI

Founded by Jean Marie Uwabeza, Yuko AI provides an accurate and efficient AI-powered software solution to help dermatology clinics communicate, triage and manage skin health issues more effectively online. The SaaS startup took home the Next AI Top Startup Award at Startupfest in Montreal this past July.

To learn more about the Black Founders Network, visit the website.