TD Canada Exec Claudette McGowan

TD Canada Exec Claudette McGowan

The Atlantic Women’s Venture Fund will serve as the East Coast representative for the newly formed Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism, a national group that announced its formation Monday.

The coalition’s mandate is to advance the interests of non-white entrepreneurs by attempting to influence policy at large institutions. Its nationally distributed membership includes executives from major companies, such as accounting giant KPMG and computer networking specialist Cisco Canada.

The Atlantic Women’s Venture Fund was founded by a group of Atlantic Canadian businesswomen to invest in companies run by female entrepreneurs. Its first fund, the $20 million Sandpiper Ventures, is being overseen by former Dream Maker Ventures principal Danielle Graham.

“Sandpiper is proud to represent the East Coast in this coalition to enable diverse communities to participate in our future economy and drive real change in Canada,” said Graham in a statement. “With the outbreak of COVID, the level of disruption to the framework of our society has provided an opportunity to re-imagine and re-configure a new, more inclusive, economy.”

Her comments echoed those in a press release from the coalition, which framed the effects of COVID-19 as an opportunity to steer the economic recovery in a more socially progressive direction.

In service of that goal, the group plans to focus on improving minority youth skills development, job opportunities, venture and founder support, investment and funding, and generalized community leadership.

TD Canada Global Executive Officer Claudette McGowan has been nominated as the coalition’s chair, and Toronto startup incubator MaRS has pledged to provide “support and ecosystem access.”

“COVID-19 has created the perfect storm that brought many of the injustices in society to the forefront, such as the destructive forces of racism and prejudice,” said Armughan Ahmad, president and managing partner of KPMG’s digital division in a statement. “As we build the post-COVID new economy we have the opportunity and responsibility to create a more inclusive and just society.”