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Tariq Fancy

Ex-Wall Street Star turned Non-Profit Social Entrepreneur, CEO of the Rumie Initiative

After creating one billion in profit for investors as youngest Partner at a Wall Street firm, Tariq shocked his peers by leaving to pursue a new goal of helping one billion children receive an education through his award-winning low-cost technology approach. In 2013 Tariq founded Rumie, a non-profit organisation that uses low-cost technology to provide access to education for underprivileged children around the globe. Rumie was awarded the Best Social Startup award at the 2014 Startup Open, was subject of an in-depth Harvard Business School Case Study in 2016, and won the Google Impact Challenge Canada in 2017.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Applying business principles to help humanity Corporate Social Responsibility is a growing  trend across many industries. As a former senior-level Wall Street investment banker, Tariq shares his experience in making the switch from generating one-billion in profit to helping one-billion people – all using the same business principles.  The realities of contributing to social good differ across non-profit and for-profit markets and Tariq’s perspective is one that appeals to business people who want to make a greater humanitarian impact.

Using Technology to Multiply Social Value (and Make Access to Education Equal) Tariq shares the common principles behind how we can use technology to build massive and transformational impact. At Rumie, Tariq’s ed tech social startup, the mission is  to bring free digital educational content to the world’s underprivileged children. Their  first generation $50 device included content (books, encyclopedias, etc) that just 10 years ago used to cost over $5,000 to produce. That 100x value multiplier led Rumie to be named the World’s Best Social Startup in 2014. Tariq will talk you through how to use business principles and technology as a means to make significant social change.


Library of Congress Literacy Award

Toronto Star | 10 Torontonians to watch

Best Social Startup Award

  • I was very impressed by Tariq himself, what he had accomplished both academically and business-wise and that he was pushing that aside to lead the charge on trying to educate parts of the world that don’t have access to schools and regular education.

    - Chairman, McEwen Mining

Summary Profile

Tariq is an inspired and passionate speaker who enjoys challenging the status quo and exploring cutting edge, disruptive solutions to some of humanity’s most pressing problems and exploring how businesses have a role to play. As a recognized business leader who transitioned to using his skills to drive widespread social good, he is a leader in the emerging field of social innovation

Tariq Fancy had his first lightbulb moment when he was seven years old. The Toronto native was in Nairobi, where his parents grew up, and saw a beggar squatting on the street. He was instantly drawn to helping him but was discouraged by his uncle, who told him: “Why bother? You can’t help everyone.” It bothered him for days afterward – it didn’t seem right that not being able to fix everything was an excuse not to do anything, or that the absence of a perfect solution was a justification for inaction.

Through his subsequent professional career at the forefront of the intersection at the intersection of finance and technology, Tariq found ways to connect his work with his passion for international development. He began as an investment banker during the dot-com era, working in the leading Silicon Valley-based investment bank that led the IPOs of Google, Amazon and Cisco. He later put those skills to work at a New York-based investment firm, where he became the firm’s youngest partner after leading successful investments around the world, many which brought business skills and capital to building critical infrastructure in emerging markets.

One of those investments was particularly prescient: in 2004, after multiple trips to Central and South America and months of due diligence, Tariq led early work to bring mobile phones into emerging markets as a ‘leapfrog’ innovation – back when the idea of the masses from Cairo to Calcutta skipping landlines altogether to go directly to mobile phones sounded far-fetched to most. Tariq believed then that the true potential of mobile phone technology was not taking rich countries from something good (landlines) to something great (mobile phones), but rather taking the majority of humanity that was left behind from nothing at all to something great. Today, there are more mobile phones in the world than there are people, and the technology is being used in Africa for everything from communications to banking and healthcare applications.

After his close friend and business school roommate passed away of cancer, Tariq decided to dedicate himself full time to building game-changing solutions to improve the world. In 2013, Tariq founded The Rumie Initiative with the simple mission to bring the surge of free learning content available online to offline communities that are the least likely to access it but have the most to gain. Today, Rumie’s technology is being used in over 20 countries, ranging from Syrian refugee camps in Turkey and mountainous villages in Guatemala to geographically remote Indigenous communities in Canada, promising a revolution in equal access to education that mirrors his earlier work in mobile phones.

Tariq’s work has been chronicled in business school case studies by both Harvard Business School and INSEAD Business School. He has spoken at President Obama’s Global Enterpreneurship Summit, UNICEF, Harvard Business School, and has appeared on CNBC, BNN, CBC Metro Morning, and various other media outlets.