Josephine Yam’s Skills4Good AI makes privacy and AI compliance easy for your company

Abiding by privacy and AI regulations is crucial for companies to succeed in our technology-first world. Still, many companies struggle to keep up with the ever-changing global legal landscape. That’s why Josephine Yam, an AI lawyer and AI ethicist, started Skills4Good AI. As CEO and Co-founder, she leads this one-stop-shop SaaS platform for privacy and AI compliance designed for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Skills4Good AI helps SMEs use tech for good, “Not everything legal is ethical, and not everything ethical is legal, especially when using AI technologies,” says Josephine.

As a woman, visible minority, and immigrant, Josephine passionately advocates for equity, diversity, and inclusion in AI to create a human-centered AI world. She is also a recipient of several awards such as the RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award, Most Influential Filipina Woman in the World Award, and one of the 100 Brilliant Women in AI Ethics for 2022. She was also featured in the Government of Ontario-funded “Making it in Canada” documentary series.


What does Asian Heritage Month mean to you?

“In diversity, there is strength. For me, Asian Heritage Month is a special opportunity to celebrate the stories and contributions of Asian Canadians who have helped make Canada ‘the True North strong and free’. Asian Heritage Month is also a rallying cry for us to reject all forms of anti-Asian racism and discrimination. By cultivating authentic human friendships with Asian Canadians, we experience their core identities and crush the damaging stereotypes we have in our minds.”

“Through human friendships with Asian Canadians and non-Asian Canadians alike, we cultivate genuine empathy for each other. In doing so, we collectively weave a strong fabric of equity, diversity, and inclusion that will continuously make Canada one of the world’s best places to live and do business.”


Why did you start your business?

“I have the mind of a lawyer but the heart of an entrepreneur. My legal mind interprets the world using risk analysis and strategic thinking. At the same time, my entrepreneurial heart loves risk and wants to work on tough problems that matter,” explained Josephine.

“To me, entrepreneurship is the highest form of creativity and self-expression. As an entrepreneur, I have the agency and freedom to live by my values and chart my destiny, regardless of what others may think or say. It’s a destiny that aligns and deeply resonates with my core being. My company Skills4Good AI is a one-stop SaaS platform for privacy and AI compliance designed for small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs). Privacy and AI regulations are rapidly evolving around the world. The problem is that 90% of SMEs are not ready to comply with them because of a lack of time, money, staff, or automation.”

“We help SMEs comply with rapidly emerging global privacy and AI regulations seamlessly and cost-effectively through our various subscription packages. Using privacy and human rights by design, we also help them go beyond compliance so they can leverage tech for good.”

“The idea to start Skills4Good AI came to me while attending Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. That stint was a transformational, life-changing experience. In one of my classes, a well-renowned Stanford professor remarked, ‘If you aren’t changing the world, don’t bother.’ I co-founded Skills4Good AI because I wanted to solve the lack of diversity and inclusion in our rapidly changing digital world. This drive was fueled by my firsthand experiences of being an outsider in three intersectional ways: I am a woman, person of color, and Canadian immigrant.”

“Not everything legal is ethical, and not everything ethical is legal, especially when using AI technologies. Thus, during the pandemic, I completed a Master’s Degree in Philosophy (AI Ethics) to strategically complement my Master’s Degree in Law. By harnessing my background as an AI lawyer, AI ethicist, and tech entrepreneur, I am excited to lead Skills4Good AI in helping companies respect privacy rights, reduce algorithmic bias, and leverage tech for good in this AI-driven world.”


What role does your heritage play as an entrepreneur?

“Many years ago, my husband and I flew in from the Philippines to Toronto in the middle of a March snowstorm with our two small children. In our bursting suitcases, we had packed no toques, no winter jackets, and no snow boots. But what we packed in our hearts was a brave, bold dream to make Canada our new home,” said Josephine.

“We were a young family in a new country with no family, no friends, and no jobs. We had no support system to help us navigate this brave new world. We had to develop resilience to overcome countless rejections. We had to muster the grit, determination, and positive attitude that tomorrow would be a better day. We found strength in prayer and with each other. Eventually, our prayers were answered and answered abundantly. So many kind people opened their hearts and opened many doors of opportunity for us. Because my husband and I were entrepreneurs in the Philippines, we always had a healthy risk appetite. We embraced the adventure that our new life in Canada would bring.”

“As an immigrant, I am a natural-born entrepreneur who loves risk. I am thrilled to embrace the great unknown. Because I have the drive to thrive, I have learned how to hustle. I have developed the grit to persevere and overcome adversity. As an outsider, I notice many things insiders take for granted. I see gaps in the market that present exciting blue-ocean entrepreneurial opportunities. With the frontier spirit of an immigrant, I always seize those opportunities with a passion for bold adventure.”


What’s one piece of advice that you would give to yourself when you were first starting your business?

“Embrace risk. Be bold. Life begins outside your comfort zone.”


This piece is part of Startup Canada’s wider campaign to celebrate and honour Asian Heritage Month. Find more entrepreneur stories such as Josephine’s in our full list of Asian entrepreneurs who are shaking up Canada.