Updated: May 8, 2020
While on the campus of Ohio State University’s Fisher School of Business, Gloria Ware stumbled upon a Black Enterprise magazine. As she flipped through the pages, it was her first time seeing representation of Black entrepreneurs. The distance between Gloria and the faces in the magazine, represents the isolation that many Black entrepreneurs face. However, the passion sparked within her from seeing a face that looked like hers leading a business represents what the future would hold for her. In our interview, Gloria recalls a program she attended for students and local residents on Black entrepreneurship as a path to economic empowerment. How can entrepreneurship impact the Black community? Gloria mentions,
Black entrepreneurs have 12x the wealth than that of Black people who aren’t entrepreneurs. Also, Black entrepreneurs tend to hire other black people.
Check out the full interview
As Gloria continued down her entrepreneurial journey, this is the problem she wanted to solve. There are Black businesses because the “lack of capital” does not prevent us from starting. Lack of capital prevents us from growing. A study by JP Morgan Chase stated that if Black business could reach employment parity, we could eliminate Black unemployment in our communities.
Are you a Black woman founder trying to secure the bag? Gloria Ware founded Get The Bag, a subscription service to help Black women launch and grow thriving businesses. Initially, she started by writing a book centered around accessing venture capital (VC) for Black women. After she dove into her research, she realized that VC is not for most people. In 2018, the number of Black women entrepreneurs had increased by 460% over the last 20 years. We are the fastest growing demographic of founders. Yet, Black women have only raised 0.0006% of VC worldwide.
This week I attended "First Time Founder's Guide To Fundraising" hosted Mike Preuss, Co-Founder of Visible, and Lolita Taub, Venture Partner at NextGen Venture Partners. From their perspectives due to the uncertainty brought on by the current pandemic, there are less angel investors and VC funds looking for new deals. Those that are investing may be writing smaller checks. To help, Mike and Lolita shared their resources for new and minority founders. Mike shared Visible's list of Pre-Seed and Seed VC Funds looking for deals. Lolita is an advocate for women entrepreneurs and shared her list of Women Angel Investors.
So, Black women do not have access to the same level of funding and they cannot hire the same amount of employees. How are they running their businesses? The short answer is ALONE. Bootstrapping is when you build a business from the ground up with your personal savings and any revenue. If you watched Netflix’s She Did That, you know that this is the funding option Black women are often forced to choose. Many businesses start and survive this way, however, at the site of unexpected financial downturns like COVID-19 or seasonal declines, where can these businesses turn?
Gloria has worked with many entrepreneurs over the course of her career. One thing she has noted about women founders in general, they are living in isolation or searching for a community. Her goal became
Helping Black women secure enough capital so that we can grow our businesses and hire more people. Sometimes we don’t grow as quickly as we can because we are trying to do everything ourselves.
During her ~20 years of experience as a banker, she helped ensure Black women lived up to their full potential by leading external trainings with Black women entrepreneurs to help them secure bank loans. This is an option, but you need business credit or a good personal credit. Funding dispersed in The CARES Act has unveiled the disparity between the amount of minority-led businesses with relationships to banks. When you do not have a relationship with a bank and you need to borrow money, you may turn to family and friends funding rounds (F&F). While some communities have strong lineages of generational wealth that would make this a feasible option, that isn’t as common in the Black community. Instead, we have found a different way to raise F&F rounds. In my next blog, I will detail this innovative solution that has propelled growth in communities around the world for centuries. For a sneak peek, subscribe to my email list!