The recent Black Lives Matter protests have sent a long overdue wake up call to many people around the country about the daily racism inflicted upon Black people in the United States. As we continue to fight for equality in every aspect of life, it’s important for allies to understand the many ways in which they can show their support.
In the VC and entrepreneurial space, whiteness dominates — 77.1% of founders are white. And while this is a frustrating reality, it is also a massive opportunity for allies. This is the time to support Black founders and entrepreneurs. This is the time to pay attention to Black VCs. This is the time to make your allyship count.
We’ve compiled a number of resources for the Black founder community, in addition to resources to help allies support Black professionals and give them space to excel.
Conferences and Events for Black Entrepreneurs and Professionals
It’s critical for Black founders to have the opportunity to network with and learn from others who have walked in their shoes. These conferences and events focus on lifting Black people up and providing them with the connections and resources they need to launch and grow their startup.
- AfroTech, community and connection for Black Entrepreneurs
- Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit, which provides details on how to launch, grow, and innovate a business.
- Black Men XCEL, a leadership excellence conference for men of color.
- Black Women Talk Tech, a conference designed by Black women founders for Black women founders.
- Culture Shifting Weekends, which brings together over 400 accomplished Black & Latinx tech executives.
- Women of Power Summit, an executive leadership event for women business leaders of color.
- Women of Power Tech, offering business development information to African American female professionals.
Internship Programs, Hiring Resources and Startup Accelerators
These are resources that empower Black entrepreneurs who are just getting started in this space. From getting training on how to succeed in venture capitalism to think tanks that showcase Black success, you’ll find it here.
- Black and Brown Founders, which provides community, education, and access to Black and Latinx entrepreneurs.
- DivInc, bridging the gap between underrepresented entrepreneurs and the resources they need to succeed.
- HBCUvc, training and preparing Black people for a career in venture capital and tech.
- HireHer, which connects diverse talent with innovative industries.
- Minority Business Development Agency, a federal agency that promotes the growth and competitiveness of minority-owned businesses.
- National Association of Black Women Entrepreneurs, a national think tank that researches, documents, and showcases Black success.
- Opportunity Hub, innovation, entrepreneurship and investment ecosystem building platform for diverse innovators.
- The Runway Project, helping African American Entrepreneurs take off.
Nonprofits and Other Organizations Supporting the Black Community
Due to the systemic racism that exists in the United States, many young Black people do not have the opportunities to learn the technology and business skills they need to enter the startup space. These nonprofit and other organizations help to bridge this gap by providing education, funding, training, networking and other opportunities.
- All Star Code, helping young men of color succeed in tech.
- Black Girl Ventures, creating access to capital for Black and brown women founders.
- Black Girls Code, providing technology education for Black girls.
- The Black Upstart, pop-up schools for young Black entrepreneurs.
- BLCK VC, a community for Black venture investors.
- Code 2040, which is mobilizing the largest racial equity community in tech.
- Code Fever, helping Black communities create value in the innovation sector.
- The Doonie Fund, which makes micro investments in Black women entrepreneurs.
- Forward Cities, equipping communities to sustain more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems.
- INROADS, which helps develop and place talented underserved youth in business.
- MORTAR, enabling under-served entrepreneurs and businesses.
- NewMe, an entrepreneurial education program.
- The TechStars Foundation, stimulating innovation by empowering underrepresented entrepreneurs.
- VC Include, a network for inclusive decision making.
Funds Led by Black VCs & Capital Resources for Black Entrepreneurs
There are several VC firms led by successful Black investors, who focus on raising up entrepreneurs of color that showcase great potential. Here you’ll find both Black-led VC firms and funding resources specifically for Black entrepreneurs.
- Backstage Capital, which has invested over $7 million in more than 120 companies led by underrepresented founders.
- Base10, who focus on AI-led startups.
- Cleo Capital, an early stage venture capital fund that invests in pre-seed and seed stage tech.
- Harlem Capital, committed to investing in 1,000 diverse founders over 20 years.
- MaC Venture Capital, who focus on funding infectious products for a diverse marketplace.
- New Voices Foundation Fund, providing investment, grants, coaching and networking opportunities for women of color.
- Precursor Ventures, committed to create a more just venture ecosystem.
- Verticle404, providing capital for Black & Latinx entrepreneurs.
Black-led startups are making waves in the founder community because of their aggressive growth. For example, in 2019, businesses owned by Black women grew by 50%. We’ve compiled a list which includes some Black startups making headlines in every industry.
- Black Founders, VCs, and tech professionals list of venture-backed Black founders in the US.
- AfroTech: Six Black Startups that are Killing the Game
- AngelList: African-American Startups
- Crunchbase: 25 Black Entrepreneurs Making Waves
- Kevin T Payne: 25+ Black Startup Founders Share Priceless Business Lessons
- PitchBook: 27 Black Founders and Investors to Watch in 2019
Being an ally takes work, and it’s not easy. It’s a learning process where the journey requires you to constantly better yourself by listening to the Black community and making space for them to have a voice. Here are some important lessons all allies need to focus on.
- Black Enterprise: 5 Black Founders Share Startup Funding Tips
- Crunchbase: The Conversation And The Data: A Look At Funding To Black Founders
- Equality Includes You: 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
- Entrepreneur: Black-Owned Restaurants and Businesses You Can Support Right Now
- Financial Times: It’s Time for White People to Step Up for Black Colleagues
- Forbes: How To Support Black Entrepreneurs: Hire And Wire
- Food52: Black-Owned Businesses to Support — Now & Always
- MarketPlace: Black Founders Want Tech Companies To Do More Than Donate
- PitchBook: Black Founders Say VC Responses on Race Could Affect Future Connections
- Sojourners: For Our White Friends Desiring to Be Allies
- Vanity Fair: Aurora James on This Week’s Big Win for the 15 Percent Pledge and Black-Owned Brands
If you’re looking to help — if you’re looking for ways you can make a difference — start by getting to know the names of Black founders, VCs and entrepreneurs. Talk about their successes to your network. Connect them with people who understand the value of what they have to offer. Focus on listening more than talking. And always remember that allyship doesn’t end once you’ve taken one action. It’s an ongoing process and there is a long, long way to go.
If you have more ideas, please share them in the comments.
Byline: Anam Ahmed