As technology pioneer Freada Kapor Klein has said, “We can’t close gaps to access and opportunity without having our entrepreneurs come from the communities we are trying to serve. Lived experience is essential in creating successful businesses.”
As one example, rather than top-down decisions loaded with bias, we invest through a peer review methodology that is intended to democratize entrepreneurship. First, we identify a group of entrepreneurs that are all working to solve a specific problem — say, doing something about the 100 million Americans who don’t have a bank account, or building sustainable models for smallholder farmers in East Africa. Village Capital runs training programs that connect these entrepreneurs with mentors and industry experts. At the end of each program, the entrepreneurs rank each other and pick two companies to receive our pre-committed investment dollars.