Through entrepreneurship and mentorship, U of T grad leaves a mark on his community

'It's about finding the opportunities and support'

Michael Owusu, who graduated from U of T Mississauga's Digital Enterprise Management program, is creating an app that can streamline the process of drafting wills (supplied photo)

Michael Owusu was years into a career with the Bank of Montreal when a chance conversation with a client prompted him to reconsider his future.

“I thought to myself, ‘If I’m not really enjoying my job or if I’m not really seeing opportunities, if I go back to school for four or five years – in reality, what are four or five years in the grand scheme of my life?’” says Owusu, who earned an associate degree in broadcast journalism from Sheridan College. “That realization put me on the trajectory of enrolling back in school.” 

In 2018, Owusu enrolled at the University of Toronto Mississauga as a mature student in the Digital Enterprise Management (DEM) program. It was during the program's fourth-year technological entrepreneurship class that he came up with the idea for Willify – an app that can streamline the process of drafting a will.

Owusu says there are significant barriers to drafting a will, particularly for young people and members of marginalized communities. “There’s a huge unmet need for will-drafting. Given my previous work in banking and government, I’ve seen how not having a will can be so detrimental to people’s lives, no matter their age.”

In January 2023, Willify was accepted into the early-stage program at ICUBE, U of T Mississauga’s social entrepreneurship accelerator and incubator. The following month, the company placed among the top five finalists out of 40 competing startups at the Sauga Start-up Pitch Competition.

Owusu, who graduated from the DEM program in spring 2023, now works at the Canada Revenue Agency as a coaching specialist in learning and development. Meanwhile, he continues to work on Willify, with an ambitious goal in mind – helping one million users in Canada draft a will using the application.

Owusu credits ICUBE with helping him expand his knowledge of design and prototyping, which helped him realize his ideas for Willify. The experience also reinforced his entrepreneurial aspirations. “If you have an idea, if you want to do something, you can make it happen. It's about finding the opportunities and support,” he says.

Owusu is also keen to provide support to others, particularly those who are at the beginning of their academic and career journeys. While at U of T Mississauga, he got involved with the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information and Technology (ICCIT) Student Mentorship Program. “I wanted to get involved in ICCIT because I had real-world professional experience, and I wanted to share that with other students in DEM,” says Owusu, adding that witnessing their development first-hand was very rewarding. 

For Owusu, the human aspect of connecting with people and aiding their progress is hugely satisfying, and something he enjoys in his job with the CRA. “Whether it’s training someone new to the learning development community and seeing them experience that ‘aha’ moment or coaching someone and having them significantly improve throughout the session – it’s a great thing to see and a great place to be.” 

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