Black Innovation Alliance and Village Capital today announced Resource, a national initiative aimed at boosting the efforts of entrepreneur support organizations (ESOs) led by, and focused on, founders of color.
The motivation behind the project is straightforward. ESOs “face record demand, declining resources and are chronically underestimated, underappreciated and underfunded,” the organizations say.
Resource aims to give local accelerators and incubators support in the form of training and community.
Resource’s "ESO Accelerator” will train startup ecosystem leaders on how to build a more financially sustainable organization, as well as help connect them to potential funders. It also will provide milestone-based financial support tied to organizational development.
Resource also plans to build a national community of practice among ESO leaders of color and their funders to share best practices and “develop stronger capital and mentorship pathways" for Black, Latinx and Indigenous founders across the U.S.
Village Capital, says CEO Allie Burns, supports and invest in entrepreneurs “who have been historically sitting in historical blind spots of investors, whether that's by the problems they're trying to solve, the geography they're located in or demographic factors that we have seen lead to capital being concentrated in very few people, places and problems.” Village Capital has worked with more than 100 other ESOs to help grow companies with founders from all backgrounds over the past five years.
The goal with Resource is to help ensure that incubators and accelerators focused on supporting people of color have the resources they need to flourish, she added.
“We want to make sure that those accelerators and other ESOs have the financial, social and human capital to keep their doors open and grow,” Burns said.
Black Innovation Alliance Executive Director Kelly Burton points out that these Black-led organizations are often the first line of support for Black entrepreneurs yet reap few benefits from their success over time.
“They receive very little support and very little funding,” she said. “It's almost like they do all the heavy lifting, they plant seeds and do all the cultivation but they don't really get to benefit once that founder and that startup has really taken off. This is an opportunity for us to stabilize these organizations to help them build their own capacities and capabilities so that that organization can be sustainable.”
Resource is supported by a national coalition of funders committed to supporting entrepreneurs of color. The initial coalition includes Moody’s, The Sorenson Impact Foundation, Travelers and UBS.
In related news, on Tuesday we covered New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s proposal for a $10 million allocation in the state budget to create a seed fund for Black and Latinx startups.
In that piece, we noted that there are a number of organizations out there that are committed to funding diverse founders.
In February, several national and Chicago-based organizations banded together to support early-stage Black and Latinx tech entrepreneurs through a new program dubbed TechRise. The nonprofit P33 launched the program in partnership with Verizon and 1871, a private business incubator and technology hub, among others, with the goals “of narrowing the wealth gap in Chicago, generating thousands of tech-related jobs and giving $5 million in grant funding to Black and Latino entrepreneurs,” according to the Chicago Sun Times. (Disclosure: Verizon is TechCrunch’s parent company).
Also in Austin, DivInc is a nonprofit pre-accelerator that holds 12-week programs for underrepresented tech founders. Founded in 2016 by former Dell executive Preston James, the organization aims to “empower people of color and women entrepreneurs and help them build successful high-growth businesses by providing them with access to education, mentorship and vital networks.”