Meet Five Black Founders Who Made BBVA’s Founding 50 List
Black Business Ventures Association (BBVA) has unveiled its inaugural Founding 50 list to spotlight top-performing Black founders in the tech industry to celebrate Black History Month.
The list aims to highlight Black leaders, innovators, and trailblazers who have defied all odds by successfully launching technology initiatives.
“At BBVA, every day is Black History Month. We invite you to join us in honoring the contributions of Black tech founders with the launch of the Founding 50 list,” said BBVA in a statement.
“This ranked list recognizes the top Black founders who have significantly impacted their respective industries and paved the way for future generations of Black technologists and entrepreneurs.”
The Founding 50 list will remind many entrepreneurs that they are not alone in the fight to improve the world. It will also show founders that their fight to challenge the status quo has been noticed.
“We hope this list is a source of inspiration and motivation for those looking to make their mark in the tech industry. These founders prove that anyone can succeed in tech with hard work, determination, and a willingness to challenge the status quo,” added BBVA.
Dr. Toyin Ajayi – Co-founder and CEO of Cityblock Health
Dr. Toyin Ajayi, co-founder and CEO of City Block Health is a prime example of Black excellence. The primary care doctor has become a recognized leader in providing service to communities with complex needs.
After growing up in Kenya during the AIDS epidemic, Ajayi felt obligated to create an app that helps financially disadvantaged individuals access essential items, from food to a secure home and social support.
According to Dr. Ajayi, interacting with patients has given her a deeper understanding of their problems and the best procedures to help them.
Cityblock Health helps people by providing compassionate care closer to their communities, making them feel that their time, feelings, and stories matter. The platform’s positioning allows them to visit people in their homes and cater to their needs in a safe environment.
Maijid Moujaled – Co-founder & President of Chipper Cash
Majid Moujaled is a Ghanaian technologist born and raised in Accra, Ghana. The tech entrepreneur’s extensive portfolio spans ten years, including his school days, where he worked at Yahoo, Flickr, and Imgur.
Moujaled credits his entrepreneurial mindset to his time in middle school, where he would sell large amounts of candy at school and make a profit from it.
The entrepreneur founded Chipper Cash in 2018 alongside co-founder Ham Serunjogi. The financial technology company in California supports peer-to-peer transactions across African countries, including Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, and South Africa.
“We have PayPal, Venmo, and Square Cash and all the services. [So] why don’t we have that for Africa? There’s no reason why we shouldn’t,” Moujaled said.
Despite having yet to gain prior experience in the banking sector, Chipper Cash has built software that revolutionizes mobile money transactions within Sub-Saharan Africa.
Since the company’s launch, Chipper Cash has seen significant growth, ultimately raising the bar higher for Black excellence. According to the app store, the company’s app had grown to over 700,000 users by the end of 2019.
Jean Brownhill – Founder & CEO of Sweeten
Jean Brownhill is a New York-based business leader behind the contractor matchmaking app Sweeten.
According to Brownhill, her experiences with nightmare contractors and endless renovation problems made her desperate to find a solution. After deciding to leave her role in 2008, Brownhill kickstarted Sweeten to bring people and experienced contractors together.
Despite being one of a few African American women in a male-dominated industry, Brownhill did not let rejection stop her from bringing her idea to life.
Today, Brownhill’s platform has put $1 billion worth of construction work into place. Since its launch, the founder’s career has hit new heights allowing her to strengthen her knowledge in architecture, technology, and the contractor industry.
Tope Awotona – Founder & CEO of Calendly
Tope Awotona is a billionaire, Black founder, and CEO of the scheduling platform, Calendly.
After launching Calendly in 2013, the platform has become one of the fastest-growing startups in Silicon Valley. Last year, Forbes named the company one of the world’s top private cloud companies.
The entrepreneur, born in Nigeria, moved to Atlanta to study computer science before breaking into business and management information.
After not finding a good time to schedule a meeting, Awotona created Calendly to make it easier for people to slot in a meeting time based on their calendar and availability.
“[I was] inspired to look into the problem of scheduling and why it is so difficult, and out of that investigation came this obsession of solving scheduling. Since then, the product has evolved into what we call [an] automated immediate life cycle,” Awotona said.
Dr. Etosha Cave – Co-founder and Co-CEO of Twelve
Dr. Etosha Cave is an American engineer, entrepreneur, and co-founder of Twelve (formerly known as Opus). Twelve is designed to transform CO2 into jet fuel.
The Houston native has credited an abandoned oil and gas site near her childhood home to her interest in renewable energy. Cave saw first-hand how damaging the nearby site was for the environment and decided to challenge this problem head-on.
Twelve addresses the emissions of CO2 in the atmosphere and provides new ways to prevent further emissions. The platform’s overall goal is to help reduce climate change by displacing fossil fuels in supply chains and transforming CO2 into petrochemical products.
Last year, the climate startup received a boost from The Inflation Reduction Act which aims to support climate startups like Twelve.