February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate and honour the unique achievements of Black pioneers, innovators and torchbearers in Canada and across the globe.
As the first Canadian institutionally-backed Black-led venture capital firm, BKR Capital aims to encourage and empower our community, and by both looking to the past, to the present and into the future, we’ve found ourselves equally inspired by the work of other trailblazing Black trendsetters, particularly in the fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) and venture capital.
We like to think of them as forerunners. People who lead and have had (or will have) a lasting impact on the world. That is why we titled this 3-part series Forerunner Friday.
Part Three highlights two Black Canadians VCs who have closed transactions with black-led startups in the past few months, as well as two of the Black investors we are thankful to have backing our fund.
These members of our communities are doing the work today and contributing to the change we want to see in our society. Read on to find out about Pelra Azondekon, Clinton and Carolyn Hosannah, and Wes Hall.
Pelra Azondekon – Director of Corporate VC at Quebecor
(Photo courtesy of AsterX Capital)
Born in Benin and raised in Gatineau, Quebec, Pelra Azondekon has close to a decade and a half of experience in accounting, corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, and tech investments. Currently serving as the Director of Corporate VC at Quebecor, Quebec’s largest media company, she also leads their venture capital arm, AsterX, as Managing Director, where she oversees all initiatives of asterX and leads activities of asterX Capital from prospection to portfolio management. Prior to this, she made stops at Investissement Quebec, as well as the global firm EY, where she spent almost 9 years working on mergers and acquisitions across Canada, the United States, and Europe.
Recent investments from AsterX under Perla’s leadership include the Black-owned Canadian property tech startup Billdr, which was led by One Way Ventures, with additional participation from Kima Ventures, Goodwater Capital, Moving Capital and Simple Capital, alongside angel investors from Uber and Shopify.
A strong advocate for diversity and inclusion, Perla is a Board Member at the Upside Foundation and Palette Skills, a mentor at the Black Wealth Club as well as an active member of several committees at Réseau Capital.
Clinton Hosannah (Entrepreneur & Journalist) and Carolyn Hosannah (Pharmaceutical Regulator) – BKR Capital Investors
(Photo of Clinton Hosannah courtesy of Clinton Hosannah / Photo of Carolyn Hosannah courtesy of Intertek)
Clinton and Carolyn Hosannah are a Toronto-based couple, and are part of the small community of BKR Capital’s Black investors we are grateful for.
Clinton has experience both in entrepreneurship and finance, with a background and history as an award-winning journalist. Born in Guyana, Clinton moved to Toronto at 2 years old. First beginning his career an entrepreneur in the restaurant and entertainment industries respectively, he later found his second act in after enrolling in journalism school and graduating from Humber College, landing at City News Toronto post graduation as an Assignment Editor. After doing award-winning investigative work at City News, he left the station to pursue a freelance opportunity with LM Credit, building on his skills to help them with business plans, pitches, and marketing strategies. Today, Clinton has risen to become the full-time VP of Operations at LM Credit, and runs his own local media consulting enterprise, Group of 1 Media.
Carolyn Hosannah has led an impressive decades long career as a pharmaceutical regulator, and currently holds the title of Director, Regulatory Affairs at Intertek. Her expeerience provides regulatory affairs support in various therapeutic areas worldwide, offering strategic and operational regulatory expertise and the leadership necessary to advance product development. Carolyn studied first at Western University for undergrad, and then also obtained a PhD from John Hopkins University.
Clinton and Carolyn have been married since 2004.
To read more about Clinton and Carolyn’s professional and personal journey, check out this article from BKR Capital, which also highlights why they felt it was important for them to invest in the Black community.
Thank you, Clinton and Carolyn!
Wes Hall – Founder and Executive Chairman of Kingsdale Advisors
(Photo courtesy of Wes Hall)
Wes Hall is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Kingsdale Advisors, a Toronto-based strategic advisory firm started in 2003. He is also a current angel investor and “Dragon” on the 16th season of CBC’s Dragon’s Den, a reality TV show where startups and business owners pitch their companies to 5 prominent VCs. Hall was born in St. Thomas, Jamaica, but moved to Canada as a teenager. One of 15 siblings, Wes noted that he garnered his entrepreneurial spirit from his Grandmother, who helped raise him in Jamaica before he moved on his own to Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto, at 16.
As the first Black “Dragon” on CBC’s Dragon’s Den, he’s helped bring more representation to the VC ecosystem on television, including making deals with Black-owned startups like Toronto’s Hutsy on the show.
Outside of advising and investing, Hall is also active in supporting social causes such as housing (founding the BlackNorth Initiative), healthcare (as a Board Member of the SickKids Foundation), and others.