In 2018, Grammy award-winning singer The Weeknd, Forbes 2017 30 Under 30 honoree La Mar Taylor and Influencers PR founder Ahmed Ismail launched Hxouse, a Toronto-based incubator for young creatives. Now the trio is setting its sights on elevating Canada’s underrepresented talent with the launch of an entrepreneurial development and mentorship initiative called Black Hxouse.
Black Hxouse’s main goal is to be the first program in Canada dedicated to the long-term economic advancement of Canada’s BIPOC community. The program, backed by TD, will accept people of color ages 18 to 32 for exclusive business programs, workshops and mentoring. Participants will receive real-time information on how to accelerate entrepreneurial endeavors.
“Programs like this help to address economic oppression, which is one of the issues we want to solve through this project,” says Ismail. “A lot of people are looking for answers. Creativity is the new commodity.”
Officially launched in February of this year, the goal of Black Hxouse has always been to serve the underserved beyond Black History Month. And Covid-19 hasn’t put a damper on the momentum. “We’ll continue the program through in-person classes and e-learning, says Taylor. “We’re continuing to brainstorm and navigate through the pandemic.”
The company also played an active role during the height of the pandemic. In partnership with the city of Toronto, Hxouse launched a TOArtist Covid-19 Response Fund for creatives who lost income as a result of coronavirus-related cancellations.
Black Hxouse is just getting started. And, amid a period of racial injustice and economic turmoil, it could be a saving grace to help boost morale among young creatives of color. As a founding sponsor of the initiative, TD wants to help facilitate this advancement. With the help of TD’s funding, participants completing Black Hxouse’s program will have access to mentorship, paid internships and future job opportunities.
“We want to help build an economy where everyone can advance their careers and thrive professionally and in their personal lives,” says Claudette McGowan, global executive officer of cybersecurity at TD. “With Black Hxouse, we will explore opportunities to elevate and empower people to succeed and grow and focus on building an even more inclusive bank and society.”
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in on the efforts. He recently paid a visit to the Hxouse headquarters to announce an investment of $221 million to help Black business owners and entrepreneurs who are working towards improving Canada’s economy, including $93 million that, for the next four years, will be invested in Canada’s first Black Entrepreneurship Program that will help businesses recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.
“As we move forward, this program will help support Black entrepreneurs and create new opportunities for Black-owned businesses, so they are well-positioned for our economic recovery,” he said in a statement announcing the investment.