Statistically, female-led and owned businesses make more money, but women are still underfunded, especially women of color. Out of $85 Billion in VC funding in 2017, only 2.2% went to female founders, and every year, women of color get less than 1% of total funding. And Black women-led startups get even less. According to a 2016 study, of the 0.04% of Black women-led startups, they only raise an average of $36,000 in funding (or about .01% of the money pulled in by the average successful startup). Of the 88 tech companies featured in the study, only 11 had raised $1 million or more.
But when you hear that women of color account for 89% (1,625) of the new businesses opened every day over the past year, the numbers just don’t add up. However, these five women are changing the game by becoming investors themselves. They’re breaking the VC ceiling, stacking the odds back in their favor, and putting the dollars into the businesses who need it most.
Read on to learn more and get ready to pitch your business.
Arian Simone, Founder & CEO, Fearless
Serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, angel investor, best-selling author, and marketing expert, Arian Simone is on a mission to change the glaring inequality in the venture capital industry that too often leaves black women behind. As the co-founder and investor in the Fearless Fund, Simone invests in WOC led businesses seeking pre-seed, seed or series A financing. It’s also the first VC Fund built by women of color for women of color.
Just 4% of female-led startups are run by black women—Sarah Kunst is one of them. Despite the statistical odds, Kunst is the managing director of Cleo Capital with an impressive resume. The entrepreneur and investor (she has advised and invested in 40+ companies), has worked at Apple, Red Bull, Chanel, and Mohr Davidow Ventures, to name a few. The CC100 2019 honoree was also the founder of LA Dodgers-backed app ProDay, a subscription workout app that allows users to workout alongside professional athletes and fitness celebs. Oh, and she’s also a contributing editor at Marie Claire as her hobby. Kunst is a force to be reckoned with and she’s on a mission to change the odds and help more Black women achieve their dreams.
Arlan Hamilton, Author of It’s About Damn Time, Host of Your First Million podcast, and Investor
When it comes to inspirational stories, nothing comes close to Arlan Hamilton’s. She built her venture capital fund, Backstage Capital while homeless. Built quite literally from the ground up since 2015, Hamilton has raised more than $10 million and invested in more than 130 startups led by women, POC, and LGBTQ founders. She was the first Black woman non-celebrity to feature on the cover of Fast Company magazine in October 2018 and she just released her new book It’s About Damn Time where she shares her remarkable journey from food-stamp recipient to a successful venture capitalist.
As the founder of 100K Incubator—the first business funding mobile app for women, Arielle Loren’s mission is to help 100,000 early-stage women entrepreneurs get funding for their businesses and scale to 100K+ in yearly sales. Loren helps early-stage women entrepreneurs get the funding and cost-effective business coaching they need to build the business of their dreams.
Inc. Magazine called her “one of the most influential women in tech” and it’s easy to see why. After selling her company, TBF GROUP—one of the first influencer media companies—Kathryn Finney launched digitalundivided—the only space and program dedicated to the growth of high-growth tech businesses founded by Black and Latinx women through the startup pipeline from idea to exit. Since 2013, DID has impacted thousands of people and helped raise over $100 million in investments. But on May 22, Finney wrote an essay on why she was leaving digitalundivided and what she plans to do next. “I hope to change the narrative that leaving something, especially for talented black women, is a negative event,” she wrote. “We deserve to be our full selves like everyone else. I know I will.”
Know of another Black woman changing the investment game? Share it with us below and we’ll continue to update this list.
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