It’s Time to Innovate Inclusion… The #ProjectDiane Report is Here

Kathryn Finney
Feb 9, 2016 · 3 min read
Kelechi Anyadiegwu, Founder of Zuvaa and staff

60,000+ startups examined.
Over 380 Black women-led companies submitted.
88 Black women-led startups identified and studied.

Today is the release of the #ProjectDiane Report. For the past year, digitalundivided has studied, examined, surveyed, and uncovered the unique challenges and triumphs facing Black women-led startups.

On a personal note, I’m heartened by the discussion #ProjectDiane has fostered. From HackerNews to Twitter to US Small Business Administration, people are talking about how we move past the current dialogue and actions that, if we’re being honest, is the same things that were done 50 years ago.

It’s time for Tech to Innovate Inclusion… And DID is doing just that…

Kelley O Williams, Founder of The Honey Bee Company

We’re using the insights gleaned from this study to craft initiatives focused on increasing the number of successful Black and Latina women entrepreneurs (aka “Founders”) in tech. And you should too! If you’re serious about supporting Black and Latina women Founders, we invite you to use these key findings to inform your efforts. If you’re an organization that wants to innovate inclusion, then reach out us at talk @

#ProjectDiane Key Findings:

Black women are extremely entrepreneurial and lead startups. The 88 Black women-led startups in #ProjectDiane are a part of the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the U.S. (over 1.5 million businesses owned by Black women). These businesses generate over $44 billion a year in revenue.


Black women-led startups are undercapitalized compared to other startups. Black women startup Founders raise $36,000 on average, while the average (mostly white male-led) failed startup raises $1.3 million.

Black women Founders are well-educated.Ninety-two percent of the Founders in #ProjectDiane have at least an undergraduate degree. More than 60% of the Founders are alumni of top 20 ranked schools, and 67% of the Founders who raised over $1MM in funding graduated from Ivy League institutions.


Lack of diversity within tech companies leads to a lack of diversity in startup founders. Nine of the 11 (82%) Founders who raised at least $1 million in outside funding worked for a tech company at some point in their career.


There are few Black women in top tech accelerator programs. Thirty-four percent of Black women Founders in #Project Diane were a part of an accelerator program at some point in the development of their companies. Those who were in these programs were almost 40% more likely to receive funding (83%) than Founders who had not been involved in an accelerator program (45%).

What’s the solution?

Zuhairah Washington, Founder of Kahnoodle, now General Manager Uber DC

Inclusion of Black women Founders, and other diverse founders, requires bold leadership from those who have a vested interest in their success: foundations with an economic empowerment focus, individuals with a deep connection to diverse communities, and government and civic organizations who serve diverse populations.

We want you to join us in solving this problem! Please send us a note to talk @ if you’re interested in writing about the report, we’ll send you a complimentary copy.

Read our discussion series on #ProjectDiane

We would like to thank Elissa Murphy, Chris Carfi and the team at Godaddy for their support of this important work.

Note: there were two decimal errors in the original report. .2% of venture deals from 2012–2014 were for Black Women startups and Black women Startups are 4% of women led startups.

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