Why entrepreneurship, dwelling possession are two highly effective forces in battle towards anti-Black racism

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Small business building, institutional relationships, and more home ownership create a “thriving community,” says Isaac Olowolafe Jr.

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Barbara Shecter

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February 12, 2021 • • 7 hours ago • • Read for 4 minutes Isaac Olowolafe Jr., founder of Dream Maker Ventures and head of the Housing Committee for the BlackNorth Initiative. Photo courtesy DreamMaker

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When Isaac Olowolafe Jr. was 15, his family moved from Toronto to nearby Woodbridge, Ontario, where he remembers what a close-knit community could build: thriving small businesses, widespread home ownership, institutional relationships, and the accumulation of Prosperity.

When he began studying economics at the University of Toronto a few years later, the now 37-year-old businessman was ready to bring this formula to the black community.

“Since then, I’ve planted the seeds to do what I can from an economic standpoint,” said Olowolafe Jr., founder of Dream Maker Ventures, a venture capital and real estate company focused on startups led by a variety of founders.

Olowolafe Jr. is one of several black business leaders who bring their expertise to the BlackNorth Initiative, a group founded by Wes Street veteran Wes Hall to harness the power of business to bring about systemic racism against blacks in Canada break up.

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Olowolafe Jr. heads the group’s housing committee and advocates entrepreneurship through plans for a Black Business Development Hub.

“The hub will be the heart and physical space that the black community can use to improve access to institutional relationships such as banks, universities and governments,” Olowolafe said in a recent interview with the Financial Post.

The project is a twist on a plan that was already underway when it was hired for BlackNorth.

The mixed-use facility near Toronto’s main airport will include more than a dozen workrooms, hotel and event spaces, and a commercial kitchen, all of which will be used to incubate and develop black-owned businesses.

Olowolafe Jr., a partnership between BlackNorth, the Dream Legacy Foundation, and Ryerson DMZ, plans to raise $ 10 million to expand the hub from 13,000 square feet to 30,000 square feet.

He hopes the business center will open this summer and ultimately serve more than 100 black entrepreneurs.

Promoting entrepreneurship through the hub will lead to more successful small businesses and help build institutional relationships such as banks, he said. This in turn will create more income and home ownership opportunities, a pillar of wealth creation.

“Home ownership introduces other ripple effects (that help individuals and communities) over a long period of time,” he said.

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To this end, the BlackNorth Initiative’s Housing Committee is seeking to create a $ 65 million bridge funding fund to get up to 200 working, low-income black and racial families in the home ownership game.

The committee is in discussion with all three levels of government to contribute to the residential property bridging program. A handful of well-known developers including Tridel, KingSett, DiamondCorp, and The Daniels Corp. as well as other potential donors, were also approached.

“They have all raised their hands to say, ‘How can we help, support, and support this housing initiative?'” Olowolafe said of the developers. “I think that’s a great sign.”

Homeownership creates other ripple effects over a long period of time (which will help individuals and communities)

Isaac Olowolafe Jr.

The idea behind the BlackNorth Initiative’s bridging home program is that potential home buyers for mortgages are rated against standard income and wealth criteria, with the difference between the mortgage they qualify for and the amount of credit they qualify for need the purchase of a home, is “bridged” by a pool fund.

The bridge loan would, in a sense, be treated as a second mortgage. Upon repayment by the homeowner, either after the regular mortgage has been repaid or when the house is sold, the money would go back into the pool. The homeowner and pool would share in any gains on the home’s value on the sale, the ratio being based on how much of the bridge finance the homeowner paid back.

The intent is to keep the fund going to get more people into homes, said Olowolafe Jr., noting that even if the homeowner could only get their own money out of the house, it would be more equity than they had in the course of the same years a house for rent emerged.

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While Olowolafe is a proponent of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation initiatives to bring more Canadians into affordable housing, he is firm on the idea that ownership – not rental options – will be the key to greater success for the black community.

“I’ve always known that for the entire black community to be a business leader, it takes some important things: institutional relationships, building small businesses, and creating more homes,” he said.

“All of this leads to a thriving community.”

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