A Virtual Voyage – Live From Toronto

Written by: Victoria Wæthing

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Wednesday night we had our second evening of Building Bridges, hosted by Jen Lee Koss.

This evening we visited Toronto, a city booming with innovation.

Jen Lee Koss started our session with a small quiz about innovations from Canada, and an introduction to the city of Toronto where Lee Koss has lived for over a decade.

Building Bridges is more than just an exchange of information, it is also about networking. During the four-hour session, the participants were able to chat with each other about the inauguration of Biden, as well as engaging in conversations with the speakers.

Session 1: Innovation in Toronto

The first session was a conversation about innovation and start-ups between Janet Bannister, Noura Sakkija and Sunil Sharma.

Janet Bannister is the Managing Partner of Real Ventures, and she covered the ecosystem of start-ups in Toronto and Canada, and how it has been an amazing development during the last seventeen years after she moved back from Silicon Valley.

Noura Sakkijha is the co-founder and CEO of Mejuri, a company dedicated to offering fine brand jewellery minus the traditional mark ups. Sunil Sharma is the Managing Director of Techstars Toronto Accelerator and was one of the investors in Mejuri when Sakkija participated in an elevator pitch—a pitch that last the same time as an elevator ride.

These three investors and founders discussed the importance of building bridges over continents, and more specifically how to build a start-up ecosystem and how to raise money.

Session 2: Coffee Conversation About Sustainable Investments

The second session was between Kristin Aamodt the Investment Director, Europe at ArcTern Ventures and Alison Loat, the Managing Director at OPTrust. These two women discussed the importance of sustainable investments for pension funds.

Session 3: Introduction to Gender Lens Investments

Bonnie Foley-Wong, Head of Investment Strategy at The Equality Fund gave a thorough presentation on how to use capital to create equality. By investing in companies that prioritize women and girls, we will see a sustainable return on investment and gender equality.

Foley-Wong explained how she works towards engaging partners and investors, and how she avoids trying to convince people who are biased and do not wish to be convinced. The goal of The Equality Fund is to generate bold investors, and to create a positive impact on gender equality. Several feminist organizations serve as advisories to the fund to give perspective on how investment decisions influence diverse groups. •