It's rough out there for BIPOC entrepreneurs. Here are 8 ways to fund your business
Starting a business is hard for anyone, but it comes with additional challenges for BIPOC founders. Both the cost and lack of access to capital take an outsized toll on BIPOC-owned businesses, according to a report from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Around 16% of them report being negatively impacted by these factors, compared to only 10% of non-BIPOC-owned businesses. Black entrepreneurs experience the brunt of these effects.
A number of funding sources have emerged with the goal of closing this gap and making entrepreneurship more equitable. If you’re an entrepreneur of color, peep these eight funding sources for BIPOC businesses.
Visible Hands Fellowship
The investment firm Visible Hands is offering a 14-week, full-time fellowship program that supports Black, Latinx, Indigenous, women, and non-binary entrepreneurs in building high-growth tech startups. If admitted, you’ll get a $25,000 upfront investment and a chance to pitch your company to Visible Hands’s Investment Advisory Committee to secure an additional $175,000. Don’t sweat if your concept feels half-baked. During the program, you’ll receive guidance in developing and executing it, as well as in connecting with the right co-founder.
The full-time program will run from September 13 to December 17. Learn more about the selection process and submit an application here. The priority application deadline is April 16, and the regular application deadline is May 7.
Chingona Ventures funds women and BIPOC founders of mainly pre-seed and seed stage companies that have raised less than $1 million in outside funding. They’re especially interested in fast-changing industries in overlooked growth markets, as well as founders with a “chingona (badass) factor.” For a taste of what they’re looking for, check out their portfolio, which includes companies in the sexual wellness, cannabis, and health tech industries. Note that they don’t fund non-profits, projects, other funds, or accelerators.
First-check investments are around $100,000 on average. Read more about their criteria and apply here.
She’s Next Grant Program
Visa has teamed up with IFundWomen to launch the She’s Next Grant Program to award Black women-owned businesses in Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, Atlanta, Miami, or Washington, D.C. a $10,000 grant and yearlong IFundWomen Annual Coaching Membership. To qualify, your business needs to have been operational for at least two years, have an annual revenue of at least $24,000, and provide a consumer product or service, among other criteria. Past grantees have included Range Beauty, a vegan, non-toxic, inclusive cosmetics brand, and Black Girls Breathing, a platform that offers free and low-cost virtual breathwork sessions for Black women.
Learn more and apply here. Applications are due April 16.
The Camelback Fellowship
The six-month Camelback Fellowship is for BIPOC and women who want to harness entrepreneurship for the social good. The Camelback Ventures accelerator would support you through coaching, capital, and connections, help you develop as a community leader, and help you build a foundation for success through its entrepreneurial curriculum. This year, Camelback will enroll education-related and socially responsible tech organizations, which will each get an investment of up to $40,000. Previous fellows have included James Kim, founder BEAT, which offers a hip-hop based curriculum and speech therapy for youth, and Julio Rivera, creator of Liberate, a meditation app for BIPOC.
Check if you qualify and apply here. Camelback will accept applications until April 23, although the priority deadline is April 1.
Lifting Spirits Foundation scholarship opportunities
Real talk, the spirits industry isn't exactly known for its diversity. The Kentucky Distillers' Association aims to change that with the Lifting Spirits Foundation, which funds scholarships and externships for folx who remain underrepresented in the industry. Today, Russell's Reserve Bourbon and The Wild Turkey Distilling Co. announced a $20,000 donation to the foundation, which will go toward covering bourbon-related certification course credits at the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and Kentucky State University. Students who are BIPOC, women, LGBTQIA+, or from other marginalized communities will get priority. Find out more here.
Backstage Capital invests in women, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC founders, as well as those from other marginalized groups. Any for-profit business, in any industry (except alcohol and cannabis), at any stage, can apply for funding, although Backstage Capital recommends that you do your homework to confirm that your idea has legs beforehand. Most first-check investments fall between $25,000 and $100,000. Besides funding, Backstage Capital also provides fundraising support, mentorship, and a community of other founders with underrepresented identities.
Do You Fellowship
The new yearlong Do You Fellowship, created by nonprofit social startup digitalundivided in response to the economic hardship wrought by the pandemic, gives Black and Latinx female entrepreneurs access to a cash investment of $5,000, mentorship, one-on-one coaching, and more. To qualify, you need to identify as a Black and/or Latinx woman, and have a tech-enabled, revenue-generating business seeking capital or investment.
Learn more about the fellowship and apply by April 12 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time here.
SoGal Black Founder Startup Grant
In partnership with twelveNYC, Winky Lux, and other sponsors, SoGal Foundation is awarding $5,000 and $10,000 cash grants to Black women and nonbinary entrepreneurs, along with guidance on the funding landscape and the opportunity to turn to SoGal Foundation and SoGal Ventures with any questions, at any time. To be eligible, you must identify as a Black woman or nonbinary entrepreneur, have a legally registered business, have a scalable concept with aspirations to grow it into a billion-dollar business, and plan to seek investor financing. Past grant recipients have included Queerly Health, a digital health startup developed by and for LGBTQ+ folx, and Unruly, an online community that celebrates Black hair and women.
Read up on the grant and submit an application here. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and grants awarded at the close of every month.