Earlier this week, we shared with you the stories of Amanda DoAmaral and Erica Plybeah, whose experiences launching their businesses demonstrate the unique challenges faced by women and entrepreneurs of color. As Plybeah recounted to Start Us Up member Epicenter, “When going to networking events, investors will literally talk to every single entrepreneur in the room except the Black one.”
We know that just 1% of venture capital dollars go to Black entrepreneurs, who are also less likely to have strong entrepreneur networks available to them when launching their businesses. Leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs of all backgrounds remains a priority for Start Us Up.
In these week’s roundup, we’re pleased to amplify commentary, stories, and initiatives that demonstrate the work being done to build a more equitable future.
Black Businesses Key to Economic Recovery Blueprint
Gary Cunningham, CEO and president of Prosperity Now, wrote about the importance of black business investment to “cushion the inevitable economic blow that people of color will suffer because of COVID-19,” in turn ensuring a stronger economy. He notes that Black business owners are more likely to hire Black employees, highlighting the “remarkable multiplier effect in saving jobs and preserving the economic security of families.”
‘You can accomplish a dream — you can jump out there and do it’
Winrock International’s Chauncey Holloman Pettis, director of the Arkansas Women’s Business Center (AWBC), spoke about how her journey as an entrepreneur began as a teenager and has since grown into an integrated line of Afrocentric cards, school supplies and apparel. The writeup highlights AWBC’s Momentum program, an accelerator that has supported the “launch and expansion of 10 new minority woman-owned businesses in the state.”
A Black Venture Capitalist Sees Challenges as an Investing Edge
The New York Times recently featured Marceau Michel, an “accidental venture capitalist” whose $1 million fund for Black-owned businesses began simply as a t-shirt with the slogan Black Founders Matter. The Kauffman Foundation’s Philip Gaskin was quoted highlighting the inequities that exist around funding for Black entrepreneurs.
Adopting an Equitable Future
Elizabeth Reynoso, associate director of public sector innovation at Living Cities, wrote a blog post about innovative initiatives at the city level that center equity and inclusivity. She highlighted several characteristics shared by cities that have built and sustained these innovative systems, particularly around public sector engagement with communities of color.