Here I am. Minding my own business, in my spare time. As the founder of Black Girl Ventures (BGV) — a social enterprise dedicated to creating access to capital for Black/Brown women entrepreneurs — I don’t have much spare time. Typically, my Bumble “dings” are cool gentlemen with lackluster conversation or uninteresting commentary on life. Today’s ding was a special one. One for the books.
First, let’s explore why Black Girl Ventures exists. Black women are currently starting businesses at 6 times the national average. This makes us the fastest growing entrepreneurial segment in the country, yet we receive less than 1% of venture capital. In 2017, women in general, received 2% of venture capital. To say the least, we exist because we are necessary. Not just for Black and Brown women, but for all women. If women don’t start organizations that create access to capital it’s quite possible we will continue to lack access. Today’s DING was a heterosexual white male. Instead of doing the intelligent thing, Googling Black Girl Ventures, he decided to send this….
I began this journey as an ecosystem builder 2 years ago. Our solution is to use social influence to create pitch competitions that raise money and give it to the winner. Along with the money raised, the founder also receives a meeting with an investor, a consultation with an accountant, a consultation with a lawyer and other resources for their business. We have funded 10 women and we have a pipeline of over a 100 Black/Brown women ventures. We are in the middle of raising capital in order to transition into a full day conference in the fall as well as launching our own fund. This is hard WORK. Success stories like Arlan Hamilton and platforms like Hello Alice keep me inspired on the journey. Women founder communities like The BEACON DC and the BGV Facebook group keep me encouraged. Venue partners like WeWork, the StartUp Nest and Pipeline Workspaces make room for us to create the change we want to see in the world.
The outpour of support from women-founded gamechangers like Pomona Society, The Women in Tech Campaign, The Wing, iFundWomen, Brazen, Women Investing in Women (The Fund Conference) and WatchHer Work; investor advisors from Pipeline Angels (Kristina Francis, Cee Smith), Red and Blue VC, and Ben Franklin Tech Partners; amazing advisors such as Melissa Bradley, Karen Wawrzaszek, Alex Neckles, Melissa Jones, Aerica Banks, Lynn Hackney and Elizabeth Gore (to name a few); super dope law offices like Ballard Spahr and Georgetown Law…. You get the point, but this guy doesn’t.
There’s part of me that wanted to name this article “Swipe Right for White Supremacy” but this would be pegged as “too emotional of a response.” Unfortunately, It is highly likely that I may need to appeal to this same kind of person in order to get funding. Without knowing the work we’re doing, without knowing the work that’s necessary, it is possible that our company name could trigger a white male to feel left out. This is not our point. Our existence improves everyones bottom line. In fact, we exist to make that case. Economically speaking, the lack of investment in minority founders creates a lack of new businesses, a lack of employment and the continuation of poverty.
The Bumble conversation went on for a few lines after what you see in the image. He made claim that his statement triggered me and that I should think about how he feels. I explained that I wasn’t triggered by the statement and asked if he wanted to hop on a phone call. I explained I was more triggered by his lack of knowledge. His reply was that people with low income and bad credit don’t get in, then he deleted the thread. This guy swiped me right just to say this? Why throw rocks and run? Let’s have a conversation. Let’s put the numbers up and break them down. I can’t call it white supremacy because that would be “too emotional,” but he can’t talk to me about the least emotional part of this — THE NUMBERS. So who is really the emotional one in this situation?
The Black Girl Ventures solution is NOT a call to end the funding of white males. It is NOT a promise that every Black and Brown women venture invested in will give you a 10x return. Those are not economical investment promises. It is a call to action for firms across the country. It is a statement to corporations that diversifying investments is also a part of diversifying your employment pipeline. It is us yelling to the world that if you open the doors and let us into the rooms you let the “StartUp Bros” into, we are just as likely to succeed and fail when funded and supported at the same rate. For now, we don’t have the number of investments to support the successes and failures of Black/Brown women-owned ventures at the same rate as white males. If it’s about the money then we are speaking the same language. If it’s about emotions then let’s call in Dr. Phil instead of the economists. As we push forward through the white male fragility from a few, we are optimistic. We believe that there is common ground, fertile ground. There are seeds to plant, ideas to grow and money to be made.
We will not be deterred. We will not give up. We will not change our name. The key to a great portfolio is diversity. It’s time we visit all of the ways that we can diversify together. Join the movement, attend an event and/or donate at www.blackgirlventures.org. Bumble is full of white guys. This one white guy personality does not have the power to scare me off of any platform. I will also be “bumbling” when I feel like it with my black girl magic vibrating across your screen.