We Are the Ship, All Else the Sea
“We are the ship; all else the sea”, was Rube Foster’s analogy in explaining the symbiotic relationship between his Negro League and the American and National Leagues. This mutually beneficial partnership is helpful in explaining the development of BFA alongside the growth of VFA.
Together We Rise
As each black fellow enters the often homogenous high-growth startup ecosystem, we are committed to equipping them for success. With BFA, the focus is on facilitating lasting connections across industries and supporting fellows’ side hustles. More broadly as build21, we work to build meaningful inclusion in design, technology, and entrepreneurship. Our collective has grown to a point where we have the excitement of new fellows, the commitment of current fellows, the engagement of alumni, and the guidance of seasoned entrepreneurs.
Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
In addition to “soft landings” for fellows in each VFA city, professional development is a key metric for success. We look to build on relationships formed in years past and further establish connections with today’s leaders. Our Speaker Series serves as a key example — exposing fellows to the nonlinear, and often treacherous, path of leaders in the media, apparel, and ed-tech industries. When we have partners in each industry and city, we can ensure no fellow is left unaware or unplugged.
As our vision becomes a reality, black fellows are going to learn how to turn what they love doing into money in the bank. For those with an entrepreneurial mindset, it may seem as if each day brings about a new business idea. We are committed to helping fellows to get the right ideas off the ground. Whether this means connecting them to VFA’s resources, critiquing a new pitch, or even connecting them with a cofounder, BFA has been and will continue to be a resource for black fellows. Now, paired with build21, we will expand our reach to the broader community.
“Y’all stop me when I stop tellin’ the truth” — Jay-Z
Access to people and capital have historically been a roadblock for entrepreneurs of color. Both BFA and build21 are aligned in changing this pattern. As our country’s demographic changes, so will the make up of entrepreneurs. This disparity, combined with other troubling racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic gaps, undermines advancement and prosperity as our nation becomes majority-minority. Blessed with the resources and network of VFA and our commitment to social impact, it’s our duty to influence change in our cities.
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