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Generous Futures: Creating Equity & Access in Tech

June 28, 2022
1:00 PM EDT - 2:00 PM EDT
Online via Zoom webinar
Laura Greflund, Alumni Relations Officer,
Generous Futures: Creating Equity & Access in Tech

Why does the world of tech have a diversity problem? How can we address this issue in a coordinated and meaningful way? What are the potential outcomes of embedding equity and access across the tech landscape? This panel of leaders will unpack these questions and discuss how we can close the digital divide.


Abdullah Snobar

Abdullah Snobar, Executive Director, DMZ, Ryerson University


Arati Sharma

Arati Sharma, Founding Partner, Backbone Angels

Jacqueline Jennings, Venture Partner, Raven Indigenous Capital Partners; Director, Fireweed Fellowship

Jacqueline Jennings, Venture Partner, Raven Indigenous Capital Partners; Director, Fireweed Fellowship

Isaac Olowolafe Jr., General Partner, BKR Capital

Isaac Olowolafe Jr., General Partner, BKR Capital


Abdullah Snobar is the Executive Director of the DMZ and the CEO of DMZ Ventures, the DMZ’s for-profit investment arm. Headquartered in Toronto, Canada, the DMZ is a startup incubator that provides founders with access to the coaching, capital, customers, and community needed to build world-class companies and has helped 650+ startups raise over $1.55 billion. Under Abdullah’s leadership, the DMZ was ranked #1 incubator in the world by UBI Global and named one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures. 

Abdullah is an advocate for building global relationships and has worked to establish a worldwide network of DMZ-powered incubators. With partnerships and satellite locations across North America, Latin America, Africa and Asia, the DMZ’s network helps startups expand to new markets and connect with more customers, partnerships and investment opportunities globally.

As one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40, Abdullah serves on the Board of Directors for the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and the Rideau Hall Foundation, is a Founding Member of the U.S.-Canada Innovation Partnership and is a Forbes Tech Council member. Abdullah has held previous roles with the Canadian Armed Forces, Fairmont Hotels, and Marriott Hotels & Resorts and has spearheaded international development in Kenya.

He holds an ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors and has MBA and BComm degrees from Ryerson University.

Arati Sharma is an entrepreneur, angel investor, and technology leader based in Toronto, Canada. She is the Founding Partner of Backbone Angels, an investor collective led by women executives from Shopify.

Arati invests in companies and brands led by women and people of colour, with the aim of increasing representation and equitable access to resources for entrepreneurs of all backgrounds. She’s grown a portfolio of over 50 investments, including companies such as Willful, Kotn, Lilia, Three Ships, and Sheertex. She is also the Co-Founder of Ghlee, a modern-day beauty brand offering natural products rooted in South Asian tradition.

When she’s not talking about founders or fashion, you can find her heads down in a new book, trying to keep her (many) plants alive, or spending time with her husband and son. Arati was named NACO Canada’s 2021 Angel of the Year.

Jacqueline Jennings (she/her) is of mixed heritage, Cree, Anishinaabe, Métis and of European settler descent by way of Aotearoa (New Zealand), born in unceded Sḵwx̱wú7mesh lands. She is an impact investment professional, a decolonial facilitator, and an entrepreneurship educator. With a foundation in the private sector and particularly entrepreneurially driven apparel brands such as Lululemon and Aritzia, Jacqueline has in the last decade coached the.  hundreds of founders and developed multiple startup accelerator programs for entrepreneurs. Currently, as a Venture Partner at Raven Indigenous Capital and as the Director of the Fireweed Fellowship, she supports guiding the flow of support and of venture capital in Canada and the U.S. to Indigenous and Native American entrepreneurs historically excluded from equity investing due to systemic oppression, while taking a trauma-informed approach. Jacqueline is a visiting professor in the Indigenous Business Leadership program, Simon Fraser University Beedie School of Business and facilitator with both SFU Radius Innovation Hub providing solutions labs as well as with Decolonize Together team delivering decolonial and anti-racist training.

Guided by the values of her great grandmothers, Charlotte Mary Whitford and  Helen Tees she is most interested in learning about how we can harness community care, heal individually to reduce harm collectively and take the lead from Indigenous matriarchy to repair, restore and enact reciprocity in a dominant culture society overwhelmingly hurtling towards its own demise.

Based on the Sunshine Coast, mothering a son, learning about plant medicine, and growing veggies, Jacqueline is at home as a guest on the unceded land of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) and is deeply grateful to the relatives who have cared for this land, that cared for them, since time began.

Isaac Olowolafe Jr. is an award-winning real estate entrepreneur, angel investor and philanthropist. Isaac’s corporation, Dream Maker Inc., successfully operates multiple divisions including a brokerage, real estate development, venture and insurance.  The Development division celebrated the completion of the first major mixed-use development (condos, townhomes, retail) called Dream Residences at Yorkdale, located directly across from Yorkdale Mall, and has more developments underway across the GTA, including launch of Dream Suites @ YYZ boutique Hotel by Pearson Airport.  Through his love of sports, Dream Developments became the jersey sponsor of Canada’s Men and Women National Basketball Team. 

Isaac received a Bachelor in Economics from the University of Toronto. He has received numerous awards and recognition, including a Harry Jerome Business Award, an Enterprise Business Award by Planet Africa, an Arbor Award from the University of Toronto, a Business Leadership Award by Leadership and Governance Canada Inc. and a Public Service Award from the Transformation Institute for Leadership & Innovation and Toronto Board of Trade Award. 

In addition to his membership in the Ryerson Innovation Circle, Isaac made a generous donation which named the Isaac Olowolafe Jr. Digital Media Experience Lab in Ryerson’s iconic Student Learning Centre.  Recently Isaac Olowolafe Jr. Funded the launch of the 1st Black Tech Incubator out of Ryerson DMZ, along side with the co-launch of Black Innovation Capital the 1st Institutionally backed Fund for Black Entrepreneurs in Canada. As Chair of the Housing Committee of Black North, he was involved in the launch of Homeownership Bridge Program a Federally Funded program in partnership with Dream Legacy and Habitat.

Generous Futures: Driving Change for Good

Through a series of panel discussions we will explore the triumphs and struggles of leaders as they address societal problems.

Lead Sponsor: TD; Promotional Partners: Association of Fundraising Professionals; Canadian Association of Gift Planners; Canada Helps; Imagine Canada
Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE) Prix d’Excellence Award

Generous Futures is a proud recipient of the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education (CCAE) Prix d’Excellence Award.

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