Trailblazing Entrepreneurs: Shaping Workplace Equity and Sustainable Innovation

Black History Month
Black community
Equity, diversity and inclusion
Jacqueline Rigg and Chizoba Martin
Jacqueline Rigg (BCom ’90) and Chizoba Martin (BCom ’14).
Black History Month is a time to learn and reflect on past Black experiences and achievements, and to look to the future through the ongoing work and contributions of Black individuals making a difference in our society.

The accomplishments of two exceptional University of Ottawa alumni who are bridging past and present to create a future of greater equity, diversity, and inclusion in the community.

This month, we shine a spotlight on the remarkable journeys of Jacqueline Rigg (BCom ’90) and Chizoba Martin (BCom ’14), two noteworthy graduates who are creating a more equitable and sustainable future.

Contributing to workplace equity

Philanthropist and Telfer School of Management alumna Jacqueline Rigg is a retired executive of private, public, and not-for-profit enterprises. During her years in various roles, ranging from CEO of the Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada to vice-president of HR at the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), Rigg made lasting and meaningful contributions to workplace equity. She co-founded the Black Women’s Executive Network at the Public Service of Canada and held the role of Agency Champion for Visible Minorities at CBSA.

Jacqueline Rigg

“Intrinsically, I always felt the best way to influence equality was to be a good leader.”

Jacqueline Rigg

— BCom ’90

In recognition of her ground-breaking work, Rigg has received numerous awards, including the R. Trudeau Medal from the Telfer School of Management. Today, Rigg gives back to the community through her various philanthropic activities.

Paving the way for increased sustainability in the fashion industry

Coming from a family of entrepreneurs, Chizoba Martin chose the University of Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management to help her become one herself. Chizoba also made connections and found a sense of community as a member of the Nigerian Student Association at uOttawa.

After earning her degree at Telfer, Chizoba attended LaSalle College Toronto School of Design to pursue her dream of a career as a fashion designer. Her dream came true: Chizoba was awarded the Emerging Designer of the Year Award by African Fashion Week Toronto and had her fashions profiled when she pitched her business ideas on Dragon’s Den.

Chizoba Martin

“There are challenges, as well, for other underrepresented groups, including business owners from racialized groups, people with disabilities and youth.”

Chizoba Martin

— BCom ’14

“When you’re a female entrepreneur, people seem to be surprised when you tell them you’ve made it. There are challenges, as well, for other underrepresented groups, including business owners from racialized groups, people with disabilities and youth,” says Chizoba.

Her brand, Zoba Martin, received an offer from Wes Hall after her pitch on Dragon’s Den, and Chizoba is now scaling her business and continuing to build her brand. 

Recognition and success continue to come her way – especially after her cathedral durag veil was featured in Drake’s Falling Back video.

Chizoba is looking forward to a future where her business expands across Canada and worldwide. She is dedicated to her designs and to her goal of curbing waste in the fashion industry.