Since the murder of George Floyd and the resulting conversations surrounding anti-Black racism, many in the Black community have called for an increase in Black business ownership and Black excellence. Meanwhile, others have decried the lack of access Black people have to capital and funding to start or scale their venture. Here enters three brothers – Hollywood actors Shamier Anderson and Stephan James along with their brother and former military veteran, Sheldon James – with have plans to change that.
The Scarborough-raised trio recently announced plans to launch a fund to help Canadian BIPOC founders in fintech, real estate, edtech, medtech and cannabis with 50 investments ranging between $500,000 and $5 million. So far they have raised $15 million of an anticipated $100 million fund.
The idea came about in early 2020 when current CEO and managing partner, Sheldon James, approached his brothers with the idea after facing his own difficulties in founding his own cannabis venture.
“I met a set of challenges as an entrepreneur that were difficult to overcome,” Sheldon James told Forbes. “That’s what brought us into venture capital: to implicate that change for BIPOC entrepreneurs around getting financing for a business, and being able to scale it.”
The Bay Mills Diversity Fund, named after the Scarborough apartment complex where they grew up, will invest early stage startups with Serie A investments.
The fund is the second initiative announced by the brothers in recent months to advance the Black community in Canada. In December, they announced the founding of the Black Academy to celebrate and showcase established and emerging Black Canadian talent, both anglophone and francophone across film, television, music, sports, and culture. In January, the brothers also announced that the academy, a division of their non-profit B.L.A.C.K., short for Building A Legacy in Acting, Cinema + Knowledge, would play host to an awards ceremony in partnership with Insight Productions. The live, national telecast is set to take place in Toronto in the second half of 2022.
“In the Black community, we like to do things big, bold, and colourful – that’s what this show is going to be,” explains The Black Academy co-founder and executive producer, Stephan James. “I think everyone will be truly amazed by what they see, but for those who aspire to work in this industry, the people behind the camera will be just as impressive and inspiring. And it’s important to note that the award show is only one piece of what The Black Academy is doing to uplift Black talent in this country. We’re also focused on mentorship and education programmes, and we’ll have more to share about those down the road.”
For more information about The Black Academy or The Black Award Show visit blackisnow.com.
For more information about the Bay Mills Investment Group and the Bay Mills Diversity Fund visit bmiginc.com.