By Vanessa Williams
For those seeking to start their own businesses, women of color are having difficulty obtaining funding from venture capital firms. Women founders receive less than 3 percent of venture capital dollars, while WOC secure only 0.2 percent. Several tech funders are addressing this issue and seek to fund WOC tech start-ups.
Here are some organizations that have made diversity and inclusion in the tech industry a priority:
With locations across the nation, Pipeline Angels is focused on changing the face of angel investing, while also providing capital for businesses founded by women. In its program, the investing members attend a boot camp to learn more about angel investing through education, mentoring, and practice. To summit pitches, startups must have a woman co-founder and be a for-profit social venture. Since its launch in 2011, Pipeline Angels has had over 200 members to complete the boot camp and more than $4M invested in startup companies.
Based in Atlanta, GA, digitalundivided (DID) is a social enterprise that encourages empowerment for women of color through innovation-focused entrepreneurship. DID assists tech startup founders in preparing for investor pitches. Entrepreneurs are chosen to participate in its BIG process, which begins with START, a workshop concentrating on ideation, pitching, feedback, and networking. After this, the BIG cohort is selected and put through the BIG incubator, which focuses on customer development, product development, and company development. Since 2013, DID has helped founders raise more than $25M in outside funding.
500 Startups is a global venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley, CA that prides itself on its diversity. The company not only seeks diverse founders, but it also has a diversified portfolio with companies in consumer commerce, family tech and education, bitcoin, ad tech, and countless other industries. To expand inclusion, 27% of the companies in their last 5 sets of its seed program has a woman as a founder, and 44.5% of the portfolio founders belong to racial minorities. Since its inception, 500 Startups has invested in more than 1800 companies based in over 60 countries and its portfolio continues to grow.
Kapor Capital, an Oakland-based venture capital firm, makes diversity in tech a priority. The company invests in entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, but especially those from groups that are underrepresented, such as women and people of color. Over 50 percent of the startups in Kapor Capital’s portfolio have women and people of color as founders. In addition to diverse founders, the firm also seeks to invest in companies that will benefit low-income communities and communities of color. Between 2015 and 2017, Kapor Capital invested $40M in companies that close the gap of access, opportunity, or outcome for disadvantaged communities.
If you reside in New York City and want to secure funding for your tech startup, then Brooklyn Bridge Ventures is an option that may be of assistance. Brooklyn Bridge Ventures is a capital fund based in Brooklyn, NY that invests in startups that are need of seed-stage financing. It has a diverse group of founders, with female, nonwhite, or LGBT founders making up nearly half of its portfolio. Last year, Brooklyn Bridge Ventures raised a new fund of $15.1M to increase its investment into companies, which are now $350,000.