How do you facilitate dialogue about inclusion in entrepreneurship?

You invite a group of like-minded but diverse groups of people into a space and listen to their perspectives. This was the theme of SoGal Foundation’s launch event in Canada.

It was a networking event hosted at the very hip Boxcar Social restaurant at Harbourfront Centre in Toronto. About 20 diverse, self-identified creatives and entrepreneurs attended the event, and they all participated in a conversation about “closing the diversity gap in entrepreneurship and venture capital” – the core mission statement of SoGal Foundation – a Singapore/New York based “global platform with over 40+ Chapters on 5 continents in cities around the world”.

The event began with a quick social and networking for about 30 minutes, where complimentary food and wine were offered partly in sponsorship by Boxcar Social…this then led to the main round-table moment of the night. Some questions asked include:

  • What are the challenges you are facing as an entrepreneur?…and do you perceive that these challenges arose as a result of your social identity?
  • What are ways you overcome these challenges in your respective entrepreneurial ventures?
  • What resources can SoGal provide to promote inclusion strategies to help alleviate these challenges?

At first, the attendees appeared surprised by these questions and it soon became clear that these were questions they aren’t asked often. But to fit the mandate of SoGal, if diverse entrepreneurs aren’t asked these questions or listened to, how would organizations truly understand how to better serve the ever evolving needs of the influx of people opting into the space of entrepreneurship?

By the end of the 2 hour discussion, the attendees were extremely engaged and in fact, various anecdotes were raised from past experiences. Some include: women entrepreneurs feeling a level of insubordination from their male colleagues, artists finding the process of funding unfair and geared towards mostly tech entrepreneurs, and young entrepreneurs feeling a sense of not being taken seriously from investors or potential clients that are older.

By the end of the night, it became evident how truly important it is that we strive for inclusion talks, advocacy and empowerment geared towards diverse entrepreneurs irrespective of gender, age, industry, race or other social identities and qualifiers. SoGal has been vocal about being committed to hosting these types of conversations around the world because just like any other industry, more people are opting into the entrepreneurship space, so we have to ensure that we are serving their needs to succeed.

To stay connected with SoGal and to find out about other global events taking place across its chapters, visit www.iamsogal.com and follow their social media page, @iamsogal across all platforms.

If you’d like to get involved with the conversations in Toronto, email directly at toronto@iamsogal.com