Toronto’s DRIVEN Accelerator Creates Collaborative Network to Support Women and Minority Tech Founders

According to Toronto’s Education Through Media DIDDI Project, only four per cent of African Canadian youth enter the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) – and only one per cent of those are young women. To help encourage more interest in STEM careers by women and minority groups, Toronto-based DRIVEN Accelerator Groupannounced earlier this week a new collaborative network which will work with minority focused organizations in Canada and the U.S. to support tech founders at various startup stages.

“Our goal is to build a collaborative network with organizations in each phase of the startup cycle and to provide female/minority founders with a step ladder approach to success. As the female/minority founder population expands, our network will ensure the success of our efforts,” says Melissa Huggins, Founder and Managing Director, DRIVEN Accelerator Group.

“We are not only providing support for existing entrepreneurs, but creating new ones.”

Instead of turning away unseasoned applicants who are not yet ready for the acceleration phase, DRIVEN advises startups on the stage they are currently in, and directs the startup to the correct organization. The independently owned organizations that are part of the new network include: The DIDDI Project, Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund and Incubate NYC. Also part of the network are two new programs, LeanWomen and LeanBlack, which are still being developed right now but are similar to Lean Startup Machine. The first of those events are scheduled for fall 2012/summer 2013.

“DRIVEN Accelerator is an essential part of the tech ecosystem in Canada. DIDDI is proud to partner with DRIVEN, to ensure the advancement of under-represented groups in technology across Canada,” says Jason Small, Managing Director, The DIDDI Project.

“LeanBlack is excited about the opportunity to collaborate with DRIVEN. Ultimately, we are all working to assist a diversity of entrepreneurs to build successful businesses. Working together will be an opportunity for all partners to truly create synergy within the community,” says Joy Williams, COO, LeanBlack.

Using the business model: Educate, Ideate, Incubate, Accelerate, the network provides a step ladder approach, allowing the organizations involved to be a valuable resource for startups at all stages.

The deadline to apply for DRIVEN is August 13, 2012. For more information, visit