Minority-led businesses are on the rise, yet it is still harder for these companies to raise the capital they need to really fuel their growth. Over $40 billion is raised by Venture Capital firms but less than 3% of that is given to Black- and minority- owned startups. According to a Morgan Stanley report, diverse business founders are an untapped trillion-dollar market, yet VC firms still often overlook these diverse entrepreneurs.
According to the report, "Venture Capitalists who aren't actively pursuing investments in women and multicultural founders may be leaving money on the table." Yet the report finds that "most Venture Capital firms aren't prioritizing strategies to diversify their portfolios. When asked if incorporating more women and multicultural entrepreneurs is a firmwide priority, 3-in-5 investors say no."
There are funds forming to target this inequality by including racial diversity as the main impetus in their investment thesis. These funds are forming specifically to invest in underrepresented business founders and are doing their part in levelling the playing field. Here is a look at four of those funds.
Kapor Capital is dedicated to diversity and supporting startups founded by different ethnic and gender groups. According to their mission statement they believe that "the lived experience of founding teams from under-represented backgrounds provide a competitive edge. Their experiences inform the questions they ask and the problems they identify that give rise to profitable, tech-driven solutions." 59% of their current investments have a founder who identifies as a woman or an underrepresented person of color.
Kapor Capital believes that "investing in underrepresented entrepreneurs can yield new ideas, markets, and revenue streams that others have overlooked," and that "building diverse and inclusive teams brings a competitive advantage to tech." They focus on diverse startups in their infancy because "the earlier a company bakes in diversity and inclusion, the more likely it will become part of its DNA and positively impact the company's development and future success."
Founded by Arlan Hamilton in 2015, Backstage Capital has invested over $7 million in more than 130 companies led by underrepresented founders. They are committed to investing in companies founded by women, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community. According to Backstage Capital, "Less than 10% of all venture capital deals go to women, People of Color, and LGBTQ founders. Other VCs see this as a pipeline problem. We see it as the biggest opportunity in investment."
And Backstage Capital is definitely taking advantage of this opportunity by staying true to its mission and investing in underrepresented founders. In 2018, Ms. Hamilton launched her "It's About Damn Time" fund, a $36 million fund that invests exclusively in black women led businesses. According to Hamilton, "I think it's time that there is a fund that invests a significant amount of money in black women, bullishly and unapologetically to move the needle and to set an example."
Founded by Henri Pierre-Jacques and Jarrid Tingle in New York City's Harlem neighborhood in 2015, Harlem Capital Partners is a "venture capital firm on a mission to change the face of entrepreneurship by investing in 1,000 diverse founders over the next 20 years." They are focused on early stage, minority-owned startups and are dedicated to diversity. According to Pierre-Jacques "We fundamentally believe we are a venture fund with impact, not an impact fund. The way we generate impact is to give women and minority entrepreneurs ownership."
And with its first fund closed at over $40 million, Harlem Capital Partners is one of the largest VC funds to have diversity inherent in its investment thesis.
The Black Angel Tech Fund was born out of conversations that were had at The Stanford Black Alumni Summit in May 2015 in Atlanta. "During the summit, a thought-provoking panel about Black tech opportunity sparked a lively conversation about taking action. That dialogue illuminated a simple realization - the lack of Black techpreneurs and the abundance of potential Black angel investors represented an extraordinary opportunity." Out of this dialogue the Black Angel Tech Fund was founded with the belief that "the abundance of national black wealth and expertise combined with the youthful black genius and tech talent will produce successful next-generation technology companies with black techpreneurs at the helm." The fund is set up to be the antidote to the 2% problem in Silicon Valley, where black tech employees and founders are grossly underrepresented.
Minority-owned businesses account for about 30% of American businesses, employ over seven million Americans, and annually generate $1 trillion in revenue, yet these companies still face an ever-present gap when it comes to investment capital. It is because of this gap that firms have formed specifically to help this underrepresented sector of entrepreneurs. According to Jarrid Tingle, managing partner at Harlem Capital Partners, "You need diversity funds like ourselves to get this market anywhere close to parity." And that's what these funds are doing, creating a sense of parity in an otherwise unequal market.
1. Beyond the VC Funding Gap
2. Black Angel Tech Fund
3. Kapor Capital
4. Backstage Capital
5. Why Arlan Hamilton Created A $36M Fund For Black Women
6. Harlem Capital Partners
7. Diversity-focused VC fund Harlem Capital debuts with $40M