Maayan Ziv – Advocating for Accessibility

    Maayan Ziv | 2016 Recipient of the National Resilient Entrepreneur of the Year

    “It’s time to make sure that all voices are given a seat at the table.”

    Maayan Ziv is an activist, photographer and entrepreneur. From a young age, Maayan challenged norms and worked within her community to increase awareness of disability issues and improve accessibility.

    Living with Muscular Dystrophy, Maayan is a passionate and relentless advocate for creating a more accessible world. In 2015, Maayan founded AccessNow, a digital platform that is mobilizing communities by mapping the accessibility of places worldwide.

    Maayan is also a regular in the media on topics such as disability, diversity and inclusion. Most recently she has been recognized as one of Canada’s top 25 most influential women of 2017.

    SN: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

    MZ: In many ways I feel I have been learning to be an entrepreneur since I was very little. From being a young girl with a disability to today.  I often have to problem-solve through challenging situations because the reality is that the world just isn’t built for people with disabilities in mind. This natural ability to work through adversity, or think out of the box, my knack for asking questions or hacking together unique solutions throughout my life is often what I credit to my being entrepreneurial.

    SN: What is the biggest lesson you have learned to date? 

    MZ: I came to realize that you have to know what you’re good at and play to your strengths – but then also know what you’re not good at and be unafraid to say ‘hey, can you help me?’. You have to be willing to admit when you don’t know. It’s ok not to know everything, but being confident in reaching out for help from others and articulating what you are after is really important.

    SN: What advice do you have to those starting up today?

    MZ: Cherish and foster your network. The relationships you build along your startup journey are the most important thing to your success. Treat every chance for a cup of coffee with someone new as an opportunity, because you never know what you will learn, or who you will meet that can help unlock a new opportunity or an introduction to someone else who can help along the way.

    SN: What is the one thing we need to do as a nation, today, to position Canada as a global innovation and entrepreneurial leader?

    MZ: We are on our way to establishing Canada as a truly global leader, and I believe it is because we have some of the best minds, and best talent here. We need to make sure that a diversity of perspectives are receiving opportunities for growth and funding. To truly unlock our potential, it’s time to recognize that diversity is a strength and put meaningful private and public dollars towards elevating all.

    SN: What is your vision for the next 150 years?

    MZ: I envision a truly inclusive Canada, and remain committed to seeing this flourish.

    SN: How have you benefited from being a recipient of the Startup Canada Awards?

    MZ: Being recognized with a Startup Canada Award not only acted as a signal that validated my efforts within the startup ecosystem but also connected me to an incredible, vibrant community of brilliant minds across the country. Being part of this network is so valuable to a young entrepreneur building her first venture.

    Listen to Maayan’s interview on the Startup Canada Podcast Show with Rivers Corbett.