Investing In and With Entrepreneurs and Leaders of Color
|Racial Equity Library|
Although small businesses and business creation are key drivers of the American economy, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) entrepreneurs have consistently experienced barriers in access to capital, holding back both our economy and our nation's talent from reaching its full potential. These barriers are the result of unconscious biases, systemic inequities that have created a vast racial wealth divide over time, and associated challenges that many face in raising capital through friends and family, given systemic inequities and the fact that social and personal networks in America fall along lines of both wealth and race.
Investing in BIPOC leaders — even leaders of investment firms without a stated commitment to investing in BIPOC — can spark broader social change: Because evidence suggests people tend to build networks within their race or ethnicity, venture capital firms led by BIPOC are also more likely to support investees or communities of color, such as through jobs, indirect investments, and more.
Go the extra mile to reach outside of your network: Related to the above, investors must build their networks proactively to broaden their community. We have provided a growing list of organizations, projects, and initiatives below to help. Please reach out to us if you know of others we should add.
Along the spectrum of risk, return, and tenor, the opportunities to make a difference are diverse. Foundations also play a critical role in providing patient or low-interest loans that allow intermediaries, including CDFIs, to provide flexible terms to small businesses. For example, foundations like Surdna are looking at innovative tools, such as royalty financing and convertible notes, to bridge divides between equity and debt or different types of needs.
Foundations can build the impact investing field and attract other participants. For example, guarantees by Annie E. Casey Foundation and Kresge Foundation were catalytic components supporting Prudential Financial's investments in Invest4All, a fund for communities and entrepreneurs of color in Memphis, Atlanta, and New Orleans. Foundations can also support technical assistance for entrepreneurs and businesses supported by these projects, offer influential connections that support entrepreneurs for the long-term, and foster education and training to support entrepreneurship among youth, laying the groundwork for future generations.
#BankBlack: Supporting the Disappearing Industry of Black-Owned Banks
The number of Black-owned banks have declined from 91 to 19 between 1987 and 2018, with decline attributable in part to America's racist history and modern-day manifestations of redlining and their stated commitments to serving communities. For example, according to this Urban Institute report, the number of mortgages originated by Black-owned banks for Black borrowers rose 57% during the 2008 recession (2007-2013 period), compared to a 69% drop in all mortgage lending to Black borrowers -- and despite a 36% decline in the number of Black-owned banks. As the communities they serve have experienced underinvestment and systemic inequities, including from the banking system, Black-owned banks have also felt the consequences.
Consider how institutional assets can be shifted: see this map of Black-owned banks and credit unions by Blackout Coalition. Additional resources can be found here.
- Prudential Financial places a total of $47.8 million cash deposits and other liquid assets (as of 2019) with minority depositories, and minority and veteran-owned money managers across the United States. Learn more about why in this Stanford Social Innovation Review essay by Lata Reddy of Prudential Financial, part of a series on racial equity and impact investing curated by Mission Investors Exchange.
- Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation does all of its banking with Southern Bancorp and has purchased certificates of deposits with Hope Community Credit Union.
Funds, CDFIs, Advisors, and Accelerators Led By BIPOC
A tiny fraction of the total amount of venture capital goes to Black, Native, and Latinx founders, and BIPOC business owners are also often unable to access traditional debt options that can help them manage gaps in cash flow, invest in improvements, grow, and much more. To address these different capital gaps, many foundations are working to expand access to capital, including by supporting funds investing in entrepreneurs of color or providing patient or low-interest capital to intermediaries that can provide debt to underserved entrepreneurs. Intermediaries with expertise in impact investing include community development financial institutions (CDFIs), including credit unions and loan funds.
Examples of Foundation Activities
- Lumina Impact Ventures, the impact investing division of Lumina Foundation, makes direct investments in ventures working to improve post-high school learning opportunities. Many of their investments support entrepreneurs of color. Examples include Upswing, Credly, and Care Academy.
Ford Foundation and Surdna Foundation have made investments in venture capital firms, including Impact America fund.
Meyer Memorial Trust provided a $2 million investment to Elevate Capital. Elevate invests in startups led by people of color.
(UPDATED) Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation: The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation notes that close to 36% of their endowment, amounting to more than $47.1 million, is mission aligned and invested with firms led by people of color or women in this Stanford Social Innovation Review essay curated as part of a series by Mission Investors Exchange. Visit this link for a profile featured during SOCAP19 on how the Foundation worked with Impact of America Fund to support diverse entrepreneurs with venture capital.
- The Detroit Entrepreneurs of Color Fund, managed by the Detroit Development Fund with investments and grants for technical assistance by W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
- Investments in place-based CDFIs in the American South, by Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation.
- Invest4All, a fund for communities and entrepreneurs of color in Memphis, Atlanta, and New Orleans, supported with guarantees by Annie E. Casey Foundation and Kresge Foundation and investments by Prudential Financial.
- Investment by and for Native CDFIs, by Northwest Area Foundation.
Examining Existing and Potential Investments with a Racial Equity Lens
Foundations and impact investors looking to deepen commitments to racial equity can apply this Racial Justice Framework developed by CapShift and TheCaseMade to new and existing investments. Intended to help investors determine where an investment is on the continuum of supporting racial justice, the framework segments investment opportunities into three categories: Diversity and Inclusion, Racial Equity, and Racial Justice.
Expanding Networks with Racial Equity in Mind
Below, we have created a work in progress list of funds (including venture capital, private equity, and private debt), advisors, and accelerators founded or led by BIPOC (e.g., CEOs, founders, managing directors), as they self-describe in public content. (Best viewed on desktop.) Many of these organizations have also made explicit commitments to support BIPOC entrepreneurs. We are working on adding nuance to help you sort the data in different ways; please reach out to help us grow the list or refine the information on it, which is derived from publicly available information on company websites. (MIE is not an advisor does not conduct financial or impact diligence. Please consult your own selected advisors to determine how to use this information to support BIPOC entrepreneurs.)
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