Arts

Entrepreneurs of all backgrounds gathered to see Thursday’s official screening. Photo: Courtesy of Creatorland.

Documentary series focuses on women, and immigrants in entrepreneurship

The creative team behind Creatorland—an Ottawa-based organization that seeks to support entrepreneurs—launched the next phase of the project on Thursday, Nov. 14, with a screening and Gala of the new docu-series at Ottawa’s Mayfair Theater.

The documentary examines the lives of five locals, and aims to highlight entrepreneurs from a diverse range of backgrounds, and the challenges they faced while trying to make it big in Ottawa.

The show, which was created and produced by Zainab Muse, founder of digital media company Wingd, and an alumna of the U of O, first aired on Bell’s fibe-streaming service in September.

“As a young Black woman immersed in Ottawa’s entrepreneurship community, I haven’t seen a significant amount of diversity—across all levels—in the people being invited to speak about growing a business in Canada,” she explained.

“Creatorland shares the strong motivations behind why people choose to start their own business … It presents diversity both in talent and culture, so that anyone—and everyone—can see themselves in our featured entrepreneurs.”

Mirroring Muse’s own experiences, the show focuses heavily on how young business owners have been influenced by their own diverse heritage, and the challenges faced by visible minorities in business.

The screening was accompanied by a panel and networking event with many of the business owners featured in the show. Ottawa icons, including Moo Shu Ice Cream’s Liz Mok, were joined by upstart professionals in everything from South African storytelling to Ghanese-inspired high fashion.

The event sought to dispel the popular notion that success can only be found in Canada’s largest cities by featuring an exclusively local spread of companies.

Indeed, Ismail Benmbarek, U of O alumna and founder of Wandure , hopes to dispel this myth with the launch of his team’s experience-finding app.

“Ottawa is a very quiet city, which leads into this popular stereotype that Ottawa is a boring city,” he explained. “What we are trying to prove with Wandure is that Ottawa is actually a pretty creative and crazy city.”

As an alumnus of the University of Ottawa’s Startup Garage incubator program, Benmbarek believes that there are plenty of resources available to fund new ideas—if people just knew how to find them.   

“I really felt like there was this disconnect happening between entrepreneurs and information,” Muse explained. “So they didn’t come out to entrepreneur events, there was not much visible support, and a lot of people ended up leaving Ottawa for other cities. I just felt we had to do a lot more here.”

Creatorland’s mission goes beyond the documentary series. In the future Muse hopes that Creator will eventually become a full entrepreneurial incubator—particularly for second-generation Canadians and women.

For lovers of the documentary, Muse also aims to launch a more extensive second season of the show in 2019.

Information about Creatorland’s upcoming events can be found on their Facebook page.