“The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”
Those powerful words from Malcolm X, circa 1962, still resonate with Black women striving for equality in a society that decades later remains dominated by a white majority.
Over the past two years at Samsung Next, we have spent considerable time deliberating over ways we can best lend our resources to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the tech ecosystem.
Some of our solutions include forming new partnerships with organizations doing meaningful work in the DEI space. For example, we have developed a long-term partnership with The Marcy Lab School to foster the talents of young people from low-income backgrounds; and we formed an alliance with Techstars focused on recruiting and investing in underrepresented entrepreneurs in line with our Ventures team’s Diverse Founders Initiative (DFI).
Additionally, through DFI, we continue to be excited about an ongoing partnership with Black Women Talk Tech (BWTT), a collective of black women tech founders.
Black women remain the most overlooked segment of founders in venture capital, receiving barely half of 1 percent of all VC funding since 2009. However, BWTT aims to change that by offering events and resources that empower Black women founders.
With more than 500 founders currently in its network, BWTT is making significant strides with its mission.
In 2019, for example, Samsung Next sponsored the organization’s annual Roadmap to Billions conference in New York City, which was a three-day event that drew 50 speakers and more than 1,000 attendees. We hosted and spoke at the investor reception, met dozens of inspiring founders, and offered attendees the ability to take and walk away with professional headshots.
Before COVID-19 forced much of the U.S. to stay at home earlier this year, we had the opportunity to support the conference again. The 2020 program included Maria Velissaris, Managing Partner at SteelSky Ventures, Cara Sabin, CEO of Unilever-owned Sundial Brands, and Courtney Adeleye, founder of The Mane Choice Hair Solution.
“The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.” — Malcolm X
This October, BWTT published “The New Face of a Founder: Uncovering Black Women as the Next Billion Dollar Founder.” The research report was commissioned and written in partnership with Samsung Next. An important component of the work necessary to address systemic racism is identifying problems faced by Black women in tech, spotlighting them and measuring them. This report is one resource we hope achieves that.
Fast-forward to some of the report’s eye-opening findings. While the average early-stage startup raises somewhere between $25,000 and $100,000 in a “family, friends, and founder round (FFF), just 18 percent of Black women raised money from their friends and family, and those FFF rounds averaged $36,600.
Many Black women founders seek other ways to finance their dream business, as a result. Of the 52 percent who have raised some capital for their businesses, more than 50 percent raised non-traditional capital such as crowdfunding, grants, or loans. Likewise, 91 percent of Black women founders rely on a day job to support themselves, with 52 percent of those founders funneling 20 percent of their income into their startups.
The numbers may seem somewhat bleak, but progress is being made, albeit slowly. In 2018, only 34 Black women founders had ever raised $1 million in venture capital for their company. In 2020, that figure nearly tripled, with 93 Black women now reporting they secured $1 million in venture capital for their startups.
By developing solutions that address systemic racism in the continuum of an entrepreneur’s journey, we hope to play a role in leveling the playing field for Black women founders. Our continued partnership with BWTT allows us to do so. It will undoubtedly be a challenging, collective effort, but it’s crucial we empower them to realize their dreams of building sustainable and impactful businesses in the long run.
* * * * *
If you have a startup looking to connect with Next, consider joining our Global Innovators Directory. We'd love to learn how we can help you achieve your goals - whether it is through investment, partnership, or collaboration.