HBCUvc: Increasing Access to Capital For Minority Entrepreneurs By Creating More Minority Investors

We're closing the racial wealth gap in communities of color by teaching black and Latino college students how to invest in entrepreneurship.

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Eligibility

  • I am not an employee of BNY Mellon, or an immediate family member of a BNY Mellon employee
  • I am over 18 years of age
  • My organization is incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or I have a partner that is incorporated and could accept funds on my behalf
  • I have already piloted my initiative and have some initial evidence of impact
  • My organization is headquartered and creating impact in the United States

Gender

  • Woman

Where are you making a difference?

Texas: Houston Metro Area (77446)
Tennessee: Nashville (37208)
Florida: Tallahassee (32307)

Focus Areas (required)

  • Business & Social Enterprise
  • Development & Prosperity

Date Started

4/1/2017

Organization Type

  • nonprofit/NGO/citizen sector

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Start-Up (first few activities have happened)

Budget

  • $500k - $1m

Website or social media URL(s) (optional)

http://www.hbcu.vc/

Twitter URL

https://twitter.com/hbcuvc

Facebook URL

https://www.facebook.com/hbcuvc/

1.Founding Story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed.

I moved to San Francisco in 2010 for a software engineering job. It was the first time I witnessed "super wealth" up close and personal. It didn’t take long to see that both the technology and venture capital industry was creating an abundance of wealth in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. It was also clear that those benefiting from these industries were white men. Both my identity, as a black woman, and professional journey in the technology sector has motivated me to create opportunities for others who have traditionally and historically been excluded from these opportunities.

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

We are solving for the lack of racial diversity in venture capital to bridge the racial wealth gap. Both the venture capital and the technology sector has been a considerable producer of wealth for its fund managers and entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, less than 2% of venture capitalists (fund managers) identifies as black or Latino, which relates directly to the underrepresentation of black and Latino technology entrepreneurs (less than 2%).

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We are training the next generation of black and Latino venture capitalists (VC) and technology entrepreneurs through a venture capital fellowship at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic serving institutions (HSIs). During the fellowship, students navigate three components over two academic years. Year one involves classroom training where sophomores and juniors learn the investment fundamentals of venture capital. Students are also matched with a VC mentor who meets with them at least once a month and serves as a role model and career coach.
Year two takes the now juniors and seniors into a project-based practical experience that empowers them to use the skills learned in year one to make financial investments in entrepreneurs on their campuses and their communities through the venture fund.
Empowering black and Latino students to act as venture capitalists, and supporting entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship education in underserved regions and communities will allow HBCUvc to build a more equitable wave of entrepreneurship.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of how your solution is working to solve the problem.

Our pilot year provided ‘proof of concept’ with a cohort of eight students at three campuses – Prairie View A&M University, Florida A & M, and Fisk University. We received 165 applications in our first year demonstrating a strong interest from students. Among the applicants, we discovered Jordan King, Nia Scott, Briana Davis, and Micah Hall who worked for four months to bring HBCU to Startup Tech Conference and Startup Competition to Prairie View in hopes that, “We could inspire the students and community members to break into the tech industry as entrepreneurs or investors.” An outcome of the conference is they were able to connect a local entrepreneur with an investor. That entrepreneur received its first institutional investment through the connection. Jordan King also landed a role as a summer intern with Accenture’s Corporate Ventures team.

5a. Too many people in the U.S. have unmet needs for financial products and services. How is your work reaching a population(s) that is currently underserved? If it is not reaching an underserved population yet, how might it in the near future?

Through our program, we empower our fellows to serve as investors in their community and bring access to capital for minority-owned businesses. Lack of capital is the biggest barrier to entry for black and Latino entrepreneurs. Our fellowship program meets the unmet needs of entrepreneurs of color who are ready for investment but have traditionally and historically been overlooked due to both racial and geographical disparities present in the venture capital industry.

5b. Please specify if the population you are reaching is underserved due to any of the following characteristics:

  • geography
  • race/ethnicity
  • socio-economic class

6. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

No organizations are working to address the lack of racial diversity in venture capital. Nonprofits such as CODE2040 and the Toigo Fellows are working to build a diverse pipeline of talent in tech and finance, respectively. Other programs, such as Dorm Room Fund and Rough Draft Ventures work with university students to expose them to venture capital but also has an underrepresentation of black and Latino program participants similar to the venture capital industry.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

HBCUvc hosted its pilot venture capital fellowship during the 2017 - 2018 academic year. During the pilot, students hosted entrepreneurship education events on their campuses and reached roughly 400 students. Also, two of our eight fellows have already landed venture roles - an incredible accomplishment, as it is rare students are hired into these roles from undergrad. Our other fellows have landed roles in venture adjacent industries, such as finance and consulting firms, but have had their professional experience enhanced by participating in the program. We've also have been successful in helping an entrepreneur in Texas connect with his first institutional investor. We are looking forward to implementing many of the lessons we've learned during our pilot year to increase our impact in our subsequent years.

8a. Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling your impact?

Within the next year, we are expanding our program to include Hispanic serving institutions, in addition to the historically black colleges and universities we serve now. We are also exploring opportunities to work with universities in a "train-the-trainer" model to increase impact.

8b. If applicable, which of the following scaling strategies have you launched?

  • Organizational Growth
  • Organizing Conferences
  • Trainings, Consultation

9. Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

As a new organization, we are still developing our model for financial sustainability. We are establishing a venture capital fund, where returns from the fund will be used to support our fellowship program. We are also creating corporate sponsorships for our conferences and fee-based training programs for our university partners.

10. Team: What is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

Hadiyah Mujhid is the Founder and CEO of HBCUvc. She has worked in the technology industry for fifteen years as a software engineer, launched a startup, and a non-profit to support entrepreneurs of color. Jorge Torres joins HBCUvc with a background in venture capital and law practice. As a venture partner at Silas Capital, he provided capital to entrepreneurs starting and scaling high-growth branded consumer business.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 - Which of the following categories do you identify with? (optional)

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 - Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities? (optional)

  • Communities of color

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Other

If you replied "Other" in the question above, please specify. (optional)

Contacted by Isabela Carvalho

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