Dennis Mitchell, CEO of Toronto-based Starlight Capital, is part of a new coalition of Black executives and business leaders in Canada that has joined forces to combat systemic racism.
On Thursday, the coalition announced the launch of the Black Opportunity Fund (BOF). Mitchell says the fund will offer Black businesses and organizations long-term, stable capital.
“Historically, Black-run organizations have not received strategic, ongoing support — it’s been one-off support,” Mitchell said in an interview. “How do you make long-term plans if your funding is constantly short-term?”
The BOF, Mitchell said, plans to address this issue by attracting investments from the business community, philanthropists and government “to increase the amount of capital flowing into the Black community.”
The fund is administered by the Toronto Foundation, which also administers the Equality Fund — an endowment fund dedicated to combating sexism around the world.
Mitchell, who sits on the Toronto Foundation’s board, said the Equality Fund provided the “template” for the BOF.
“We wanted a similar approach for the war against systemic anti-Black racism,” he said.
The BOF coalition — which includes almost 50 members across the country — is currently in talks with several “fantastic” organizations, Mitchell said, and plans to announce its initial investments by the end of the summer.
The launch of the BOF comes at a time when anti-Black racism has been thrust into the spotlight. The recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in the U.S. have spawned Black Lives Matter protests throughout the world.
The concept of the BOF had been “germinating” for a number of years, Mitchell said, but recent events have “created an environment where everyone is now listening and paying attention.”
“There really aren’t that many credible people out there who are denying the existence of systemic anti-Black racism,” Mitchell said.