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Black American women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. yet they secure negligible venture capital funding, according to DigitalunDivided’s #ProjectDiane report.
In fact, according to the 2015 State of Women-Owned Business report commissioned by American Express Open, women own 30 percent of all businesses in America. And Black women-owned enterprises account for an impressive 14 percent of those companies or an estimated 1.3 million firms.
Still, Project Diane data reveals a paltry 0.2 percent of venture deals [from 2012-2014] went to Black female founders. That’s pretty shocking.
Indeed, Black and Latina women have been largely overlooked in the tech industry and startup ecosystem. I don’t know whether this is because as women of color we feel like we have to do it all by ourselves. Or, if unconscious biases are preventing venture capitalists from investing in founders who don’t look like “typical CEOs.”
But one thing is for certain, we are missing out on a wealth of innovation, employment opportunities, and economic growth within various communities by leaving black women out.
What we need are pioneering programs focused on investing in the success of Black & Latina women founders. Why? Many of us are forced to learn everything on our own through trial and error. Though some have managed to find success by forging their own paths, there is a wealth of untapped talent waiting to be cultivated.
In fact, there are countless women of color who have created viable business plans, bootstrapped or self-funded their startups, and put everything into their companies. Now, it is time for them to have a network to lean on to help scale their ventures.
Startups typically need a wealth of resources from office space to software solutions to become sustainable. Growth and scalability are generally only possible with strong teams that typically expect salaries and benefits. In sum, there can only be so much growth without access, funding, and resources that can lead to access to capital funding.
Small businesses are vital to local communities. However, at the point where a woman of color decides to transition from a small business to an enterprise, systems should be in place for growth. The opportunity of creating the next billion-dollar company needs to be available for all innovators, including women of color.
This is why a program such as DigitalunDivided, which was intentionally built with us in mind, is so important for Black and Latina women founders. We need a space where we can unapologetically be ourselves, learn from one another, and share one another’s networks.
Kathryn Finney, founder of DigitalunDivided (DID), is creating this opportunity for us. This fall 2016 she will be hosting a 12-week world-class business accelerator program for tech-enabled startups led by Black and Latina women. BIG ATL Accelerator Program provides a structured curriculum focused on developing sustainable businesses, mentorship by top leaders, opportunities to pitch directly to investors, and direct access to funding.
BIG is accepting applications until July 31, 2016. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take your startup to the next level.
The first cohort starts in September 2016. Make sure you apply!
Main Photo: Kathryn Finney, founder of Digital Undivided and White House Champion for Change
Rose Espiritu is the host of HustleNRose a podcast for business-savvy women and people of color to share what they’ve learned during their entrepreneurial journey. Follow HustleNRose on Twitter@HustleNRose