Through his passion for entrepreneurship and diverse résumé of international schooling and start-ups, Glendon College professor Dr. Angelo Dossou-Yovo is creating opportunities for business students to thrive at York University.
Dr. Angelo Dossou-Yovo has travelled the world in pursuit of higher education. Born in Senegal, he pursued his Master in Project Management in Egypt after earning an engineering degree in Burkina Faso. His journey ultimately brought him to Canada where he earned his PhD in Business Administration at the Université du Québec à Montréal.
“I was supposed to do my PhD and go back home, but for some reason, I’m still here.”
He then landed a faculty position in Nova Scotia. While there he served on the board of directors for the Black Business Initiative, also known as BBI, created by the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia to address the unique needs confronting Nova Scotia’s Black business community.
But despite his passion for his work in Nova Scotia, when a faculty position in entrepreneurship opened up at York University’s Glendon College, the opportunity to work in a bilingual faculty in Toronto was a no-brainer.
The initial spark for his curiosity surrounding entrepreneurship. that would eventually fuel his research, came at home at a very early age.
“I come from a family of entrepreneurs. It actually started with my mom; she had an informal business”, he explains. “Then later my sister, and now I have my brother who is running a successful business in the tech industry back home.”
But it was during his time as an economic development officer in Québec that the spark became a flame.
“Going back to the original reason why I really wanted to study entrepreneurship, it really dates back to my experience as an economic development officer. I was in charge of an industrial park. My role was to initiate projects and support small and medium-sized businesses. You get to see the struggle of small businesses; those that start, succeed and fail. The question that came to mind is, ‘Why do so many businesses start and very few actually make it?’”
Today, he is Associate Professor of Management and Entrepreneurship in the Department of International Studies at Glendon. For Dossou-Yovo, the role that academia plays in doing research on entrepreneurship is an overlooked part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“Entrepreneurship involves different actors. You have the entrepreneurs obviously, but also faculties that do research in entrepreneurship which helps to understand what entrepreneurship is, but also develop tools for entrepreneurs and for policymakers so they can encourage more people to embrace entrepreneurship.”
Aside from being able to conduct research into entrepreneurship, especially how opportunities are discovered, Dossou-Yovo is also captivated by the beauty of the campus and being immersed in nature.
“Any time I feel some kind of stress, I just look outside my window, contemplate nature, and that’s enough for me to recharge…There are also people here who will do whatever they can to really help you and make your life easier whenever you need help. That’s something that I really value.”
Aside from his work in the classroom, he is also the founder of GENIAL, an acronym for Glendon ENtrepreneuriat et Innovation À L’international, and a key player in the development and promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation at Glendon.
He founded the initiative after noting there were no opportunities to explore entrepreneurship in French at York. Noticing that liberal arts students were also interested in entrepreneurship, Dossou-Yovo opened the entrepreneurship hub to all Glendon students, no matter their language or area of study.
“We get students from sociology, psychology, business, economics, translation, International studies, communications and other programs. We offer something that is not available in most business incubators in Toronto, in that we also offer training on ways to discover business opportunities…Learning how to identify and discover business opportunities is key.”
Advice for new students:
“New students should take full advantage of their time on campus. Many students will focus strictly on coursework. Take advantage of other opportunities that exist. For instance, the incubators and non-credit programs, also other activities that will really help them develop lifelong skills in order to make a difference in their community after graduation, and to be competitive in the job market.”
Advice for entrepreneurs:
“It’s easy to start a business, but it’s more difficult to start something worth investing time and resources in.”
“If you look closely, most of the people who start a business these days, what they try to do is launch something based on what they’re already convinced is something that is worth pursuing a business for. People will look at what their hobbies are, what they like, and they’ll start investing resources in it…as opposed to solving a problem.”
To learn more about Glendon College visit yorku.ca/glendon
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