From State-Of-The-Art Technology Helping Women With Hot-Flashes To Automating Manual Data Entry: Here Are The Black Female Innovators
Just one percent of VC-funded founders in the US are Black and the rates of investment in European Black-owned businesses are even lower. Just three percent of Londoners working in the tech sector are Black and only 8.5% of senior leaders in the UK tech sector are from Black, Asian, or minority ethnic backgrounds.
If we were to break these numbers down further – the numbers would be very low for Black women. But this isn’t because they aren’t creating amazing things.
Take Sheilisa McNeal Burgess for example – a Black founder who created a particularly unique asset for women, Fria, a jewelry line that uses thermal heat transfer and evaporative cooling to combat hot flashes.
Sheilisa’s professional career spans 30 years in the fields of public relations, marketing, professional writing, and collegiate level teaching. But now she is mainly running Fria, which won the 2019 Essence Festival Pitch Competition.
Using passive cooling technology, Fria is said to be able to decrease the intensity of hot flashes by cooling down your blood as it passes by your cooling zone.
Thanks to the New Voices Fund, Fria had the opportunity to head to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas at the top of 2020 where she showcased her designs.
When asked how to use the jewelry – the website says: ‘Turn the Fria bracelet over and slowly add several drops of water to the absorbent mesh screen. Wait a few seconds for the water to disappear. Fasten your bracelet comfortably on the underside of your wrist. Make sure the mesh screen is touching and the cooling benefits will begin.’
‘Now you’re enjoying cooling relief in style. Once the cooling sensation has disappeared, repeat this process or simply turn Fria around on your wrist to show off your pretty bracelet. The average cooling time varies. Duration depends on the frequency and severity of hot flashes. Fria can be activated with cool water as many times as necessary.’
We haven’t actually tested the bracelets out and cannot confirm if they actually work. But the founder has dozens of testimonials from women who have bought the products.
Others Black Female founders killing it include:
Sara Menker – GRO INTELLIGENCE
Voted by Fast Company as one of the world’s most innovative companies, Gro Intelligence is a revolutionary startup that’s using AI to transform Africa’s food, agriculture, and climate economies. The Kenya-founded startup raised $85m in its Series B funding round, making it the largest funding round ever raised by an African tech startup.
The business uses localized insights on food, agriculture, and climate risks to provide users with decision-making tools, solutions, and analytics. Founder and CEO Sara Menker saw an opportunity in engaging the next generation of agricultural leaders and built the tech-for-good startup on the ‘tremendous need for the marketing knowledge’ it provides.
Noelly started 4.5.6 Skin, a French beauty tech startup catering to skin phototypes IV, V, and VI otherwise known as melanin-rich skin early while she was growing up in Normandy in France. She founded the company because she says she realized early on that there were no skin products for her type of skin.
After incubation at the LVMH Research Centre, 456 Skin established its own lab and production unit in the Cosmetic Valley in France. All processes of R&D, formulation, production, and filling are performed in this lab.
Sharmadean Reid – BEAUTYSTACK
Dubbed by Vogue as the ‘game-changing beauty-booking app’, Beautystack uses social media to help beauty professionals become financially independent. Founded by Sharmadean Reid, founder of WAH Nails who’s received an MBE for her services to the nail and beauty industry, the UK-based startup streamlines beauty appointments at the touch of a button.
Reid’s premise for Beautystack is ‘see it, like it, book it’, an approach designed to close the gap between beauty service providers and the $450-billion-industry, as some don’t have the tech solutions to earn the income they deserve. Securing $6.1m of venture capital in an industry where the average funding for Black women is $42,000, Reid has taken the beauty industry by storm. She spoke at Black Tech Fest 2020 on turning the tables on investors.
All of her prior experience led her to co-found Freyda (Free Your Data) in 2019.
Danielle leads a team of experienced finance professionals, technologists and PhDs to deliver machine learning, natural language processing and artificial intelligence solutions and help organizations increase productivity, reduce operating costs and make better business decisions.
Her London-based SaaS company is on a mission to automate manual data entry and unlock actionable insights for financial services. The firm helps optimize returns for institutional investors such as pension funds, university endowments, insurers, and asset managers who currently spend billions annually on manual data processing. In Dec. 2020, Freyda raised around €728K in a round led by Innovate UK, and joined the ranks of Google’s Black Founder’s Fund.