This funding for the Black Innovation Fund was provided by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), through Teralys Capital, and Fondaction. The close comes in addition to the $6.4 million BKR Capital secured last year from lead investor BDC Capital, and RBC, Globalive Capital, and Telus Ventures.
BKR Capital aims to back 18 Canadian tech companies founded by Black entrepreneurs over the next four years.
BKR Capital also increased its target fund size to $20 million from its initial $10 million goal. BKR Capital Principal and Fund Manager Lise Birikundavyi told BetaKit that the fund has now closed a total of $18.5 million from a group that also includes EDC, Westbridge, Vancity, and Laidlaw Foundation. She added that the fund has also secured an additional $1 million commitment from an undisclosed investor.
Launched in 2021, the Black Innovation Fund aims to invest in Canadian pre-seed and seed stage technology companies founded by Black entrepreneurs. The fund is being run by BKR Capital, which Birikundavy and managing director Isaac Olowolafe established last year.
“With the funds, we plan to support 18 innovative companies over the next four years and help create the next Canadian success stories,” said Birikundavyi.
BKR Capital, which already has a presence in Ontario, has also announced plans to open an office in Montréal at a VC hub created by CDPQ.
“BKR Capital offers concrete solutions to a real challenge faced by Black entrepreneurs, which is obtaining financing to start and grow their businesses,” said Wils Theagene, senior director of Equity 253 at CDPQ.
To date, BKR Capital has invested in four Black-led tech companies, including Toronto-based Fyyne, which allows users to search for, book, and pay for hairstyling services through its platform. The startup also enables ‘hair artists’ like hairstylists and barbers to commercialize their skills.
In addition to Fyyne, BKR Capital has invested in Montréal’s Goodee, its first Québec company. Goodee is a B Corp-certified online retailer specialized in furniture and accessories, lifestyle products, and sustainable design.
The firm has also provided financing to Charlottetown’s MICC Financial, a FinTech startup focused on helping individuals build credit; and Vancouver’s Plentywaka, a bus-hailing application to create a safe and more efficient transportation system for commuters.