Canadian actor-brothers Shamier Anderson (Wynonna Earp) and Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk), alongside their youngest brother Sheldon James, have co-founded Canada’s first Black-owned venture capital firm dedicated to BIPOC entrepreneurs.
The Bay Mills Investment Group will support and mentor young entrepreneurs in the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) community in building profitable businesses through its Bay Mills Diversity Fund.
The company will accept pitches from all industry verticals but said it is paying close attention to entertainment, real estate ownership and management, cannabis production and distribution, and education.
The team said that they have raised $15M CAD of an initial round of $25M CAD, en route to complete three planned additional rounds for a total fund size of $100M CAD for the Bay Mills Diversity Fund by June 2021. They are actively seeking corporate partnerships and accredited investors.
Sheldon James will serve as Chief Executive Officer and General Partner. Melissa Allen will serve as the firms’ Partner and Chief Operating Officer. She joins the group after previous stints with Google and Desjardins, alongside Teneica Toban, who will serve as the firm’s Chief Technology Officer.
Anderson and James previously launched The Black Academy, which is dedicated to breaking down barriers of discrimination and combatting racism in the Canadian arts and will produce the first ever Black Award Show Telecast 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,” said Sheldon James, Co-Founder & CEO. “This glaring gap has driven me to partner with my brothers to form this fund.”
“The fund will aim to invest in early stage and emerging companies with at least one BIPOC founder,” added Allen. “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.”
“The hope is to impact as much positive change in the financial sector as we are working to do in the arts and entertainment, and to do this on a national scale,” added Anderson, Founding Partner. “We’ve come to the realization that most of the apparent solutions to these problems are non-effective because of the disconnection between corporate Canada and the minority business community.”
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