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Black-Led FounderTribes Secures Major Strategic and Investment Partnership Deals

Black-led startup FounderTribes has just inked major strategic and investment partnerships with a leading HBCU and key players in the business and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The fast-growing startup has joined forces with AEO, Silicon Valley Bank, and Howard University School of Law to help level the playing field for underserved founders. The curated deals include a commitment by AEO to offer the FounderTribes’ app to its network of more than two million microbusinesses.

“We’re so privileged to have partners like SVB, AEO, and Howard University School of Law,” said FounderTribes founder and CEO Gary Stewart. “They are as dedicated as we are to ensuring that both talent and opportunity are distributed equally when it comes to entrepreneurship and underrepresented groups more generally.”

Connie Evans, President and CEO of AEO (photo courtesy of AEO)

Launched in 2020, FounderTribes provides women, minority, and working-class white founders access to education, networks, and financing. Its mission is to decrease the 90 percent startup failure, which is even more acute for underrepresented groups.

These latest partnerships highlight FounderTribes’ commitment to working with strategic players to create an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem. Silicon Valley Bank, the bank of choice for 50 percent of all venture capital-backed tech and life science companies in the U.S.; The Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO), which along with its 1700 members has helped more than two million entrepreneurs create jobs for themselves and their communities; and Howard University School of Law, the nation’s most prestigious HBCU-affiliated law school.

Vanessa Kuhlor, Vice President of Silicon Valley Bank’s New & Strategic Channels Team (photo courtesy of Silicon Valley Bank)

“People of color, women, and working-class white folks make up 92 percent of the US population but get less than 10% of venture-capital funding. This partnership and our investment in FounderTribes confirm our commitment to pioneering a scalable, tech solution that facilitates social and financial capital to the underrepresented groups that we were created to serve,” said Connie Evans, president and CEO of AEO.

“We are committed to strengthening the inclusive innovation ecosystem, which is why we are partnering with start-ups like FounderTribes to level the playing field for entrepreneurs from all backgrounds,” said Vanessa Kuhlor, vice president of Silicon Valley Bank’s New & Strategic Channels Team.

“Access to social and financial capital is still the biggest challenge for most underrepresented founders, which is why we’re proud to partner with our client FounderTribes to help democratize entrepreneurship throughout our global footprint,” she added.

Danielle Holley-Walker, Dean of Howard University School of Law (photo courtesy of Howard University School of Law)

“Howard University School of Law has been around since 1869, founded as slavery ended, said Danielle Holley-Walker, dean of Howard University School of Law. “Even today, our students face barriers as they pursue academic and professional careers in the STEM fields. We are excited to work with FounderTribes to provide our students with increased access to entrepreneurial careers.”

“It’s unconscionable that in 2022 women, minorities and working-class white people are still being told implicitly that the reason we’re locked out of creating intergenerational wealth for our families and communities is that, collectively, we’re simply not good enough; that even though we’re 92 percent of the population, we don’t have any ‘pipelines’ of talent,” said Stewart, an investor, entrepreneur, and the inaugural visiting lecturer of entrepreneurship of the Joseph Tsai Leadership Program at Yale Law School.

“That’s absurd. But I prefer to look at the glass as half-full. It’s amazing that we now have powerful black women in positions of power to give opportunities to black-led companies like FounderTribes. We still have a long way to go, but as a community, we definitely have come very far.”

The partnerships will be officially launched this week at a Black History Month event on February 17 at 6pm ET entitled: Entrepreneurship is the key to creating intergenerational wealth. Speakers include two-time NBA All-Star and serial entrepreneur, Baron Davis; Dean of Howard University School of Law, Danielle Holley-Walker, who the New York Times has highlighted as one of the elite black women likely to be considered as a future Supreme Court justice; Rhodes Scholar, entrepreneur, author, and law professor at Penn State, Eleanor Brown; serial entrepreneur, activist and executive, Connie Evans, who is the President and CEO of Association for Enterprise Opportunity and has been appointed by Presidents Clinton and Obama to various US delegations to the United Nations; and banking executive, Vanessa Kuhlor, who is a vice-president at Silicon Valley Bank. Register here for the free event.




Kunbi Tinuoye
Kunbi Tinuoye
Kunbi Tinuoye is the founder and CEO of UrbanGeekz. Previously, she worked as a News Correspondent for NBC’s theGrio. Prior, she was a senior broadcast journalist for the BBC in London. Tinuoye currently sits on the SXSW Pitch Advisory Board and CES Conference Advisory Board. She is a key player in the Atlanta tech startup ecosystem and serves as a mentor for Comcast NBCUniversal’s The Farm Accelerator. Tinuoye has received several awards and accolades, including being honored with a Resolution from the Georgia Legislative.