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OCAD U supporting the next generation of creative entrepreneurs

A black cellphone sits on a bright orange table, a notebook and pen are in the left of the frame and a cluster of eucalyptus
OCAD U supporting the next generation of creative entrepreneurs

During Global Entrepreneurship Week (November 8 to 14), we're highlighting exceptional OCAD U grads who’ve used their art and design skills to start their own thriving creative companies.  

These emerging entrepreneurs received seed funding last year from the RBC Centre for Emerging Artists & Designers (CEAD), in partnership with Ownr. A total of $11,000 was awarded to OCAD U students and recent grads to help them launch their independent ventures.

Four businesses received funding last year, including Mikayla Koo and Anna Peng, founders of the online training platform, The Habit Factory, which provides skill-building workshops for creatives, who came in fourth place in the competition. 

"Our biggest lesson from OCAD University was that design is the most effective and persuasive asset that an entrepreneur can possess. When we saw a gap in the creative development market, we applied our research, design and prototyping skills from our education and ceaselessly built our business,” said Koo and Peng, who both graduated from OCAD U’s Industrial Design program in 2020.  

Nora Bahgat, who graduated from OCAD U in 2019 in Graphic Design and a minor in Entrepreneurship and Social Innovation, also received funding and landed in third place. Today, she's combined her passions for baking and design to launch Nora’s Bakery. Operating from a shared commercial kitchen in Mississauga, called the Cake Collective, Nora’s Bakery specializes in custom Halal cookies, cupcakes and cakes. 

Chiedza Pasipanodya (Criticism and Curatorial Practice 2019) whose online, small batch ceramic store, Homestead Ceramic, specializes in decorative and functional ceramics inspired by Southern African heritage, tied for first place with OCAD U grad Kimani Peter (Digital Futures 2019) and co-founders Jasmine Jakhu, Alex Gagliano, Rhandy Adolphe, and Jevon McCarthy-Hyde. Their business project, LOUD army SOUND app, is a platform that gives musicians and producers access to a large catalogue of unlimited beats. 

Again this year, CEAD has put out a call for expressions of interest through the Seed Fund for Creative Entrepreneurs. Those selected from the call will have the opportunity to present a pitch to a panel of experts and have the chance to win up to $4,000. 

“The Seed Fund for Creative Entrepreneurs is an exciting opportunity for our students and grads to receive funding and support to launch their creative businesses. It demonstrates OCAD U's commitment to help emerging creatives access the resources they need to establish sustainable and successful practices,” notes Alexandra Hong, who coordinates the initiative. 

Expressions of interest are being accepted until November 19, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. for the Seed Fund for Creative Entrepreneurs.