Canadian actor-sibling duo Stephan James and Shamier Anderson recently launched their own organization to amplify opportunities for Black talent in their home country. Now they’ve co-launched an impressive initiative on behalf of Canada’s BIPOC entrepreneurs.
According to a press release shared with AfroTech, Anderson and James, alongside their youngest brother Sheldon James, have all banded together to co-found the Bay Mills Investment Group — Canada’s first-ever, Black-owned venture capital firm that’s dedicated to supporting BIPOC entrepreneurs based in Canada.
“As a serial entrepreneur and a Black Canadian, I’ve seen first-hand the stark disparities in adequate support for minority business owners not unlike myself,” co-founder and CEO Sheldon James shared in a statement. “This glaring gap has driven me to partner with my brothers to form this fund.”
Alongside the VC firm, the trio of brothers have also launched The Bay Mills Diversity Fund, which will support and mentor young entrepreneurs in Black and communities of color to help them build profitable businesses and deliver promising ROIs to their shareholders.
The VC firm’s aim is to provide equitable access to growth capital for these communities and bridge the gap between underrepresented founders and business opportunities to help them grow as entrepreneurs.
“The fund will aim to invest in early stage and emerging companies with at least one BIPOC founder,” firm partner and COO Melissa Allen said in a statement. “With the focus being on growing and diversifying the Canadian VC, tech, and entrepreneurship ecosystem.”
“The problem is simple – there is a lack of diverse investments, because of the lack of diverse investors,” she added. The firm’s fund — which is worth $100 million thanks to several investor rounds — will now work to tackle systemic racism in Canada’s financial sector head-on.
As The Bay Mills Investment Group strives to change this narrative in Canada, they’re also actively trying to put more Black and brown people in positions of power to improve conditions for their surrounding communities and bring forth change.
“The truth is we lack representation on most of the boards in corporate Canada. What representation does exist, however, tends to carry on in the practice of rolling the ladder of wealth up behind them, before dollars can trickle into these communities to help incite change,” said actor and Founding Partner Stephan James in a press statement. “Bay Mills Investment Group brings the much-needed energy of youth to the Innovation and Finance sector in Canada that has yet to see its true potential.”
Canada’s vibrant startup scene — particularly in cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver — is full of Black and brown entrepreneurs who are eager to bring their exciting business ideas to life. With the help of The Bay Mills Diversity Fund, they’ll be able to strengthen themselves as business leaders and prepare for early and growth stage investment.
The trio recognizes the unique challenge ahead of them, but are ready to make the most of this moment and turn it into a growing movement that other regions can follow.
“While we understand the ambitious nature of our fund, we are excited by the opportunities it will present. Our true allegiance is to the people in these communities,” Sheldon concluded in a press statement. “It hasn’t been easy, navigating through naysayers and Bay Street bullies looking to capitalize on a movement for their own self-serving interest, but we have not been discouraged. We are incredibly grateful for the various corporations and our strategic partners who continue to show their commitment to us and our emergent BIPOC founders. Together we will change the face of entrepreneurship in Canada for a long time to come.”
For more information on The Bay Mills Investment Group, click here.