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Startups

Viola Davis, journalist Joy Reid, and radio host Charlamagne Tha God are among the partners that have teamed up with The Grio founder David A. Wilson and tech leader Brandon John-Freso to launch ALTR. ATLR pronounced ‘alter’, is a personal development app tailored to the Black community.  A Collaborative Vision for Empowerment ATLR aims to provide short-form audiobooks by Black luminaries and authors. It is currently open for early access sign-ups and is scheduled for an official launch in late 2024. The development of ALTR is in collaboration with JuVee Productions, founded by Davis

Rachael Twumasi-Corson, the founder of Afrocenchix, is stepping into a new role as the Managing Director of LIHA BeautyLIHA Beauty.  This move comes after her successful tenure at Afrocenchix, where she played an instrumental role in securing $1.2 million in seed funding for the natural haircare e-commerce business. A Vision For African Beauty Twumasi-Corson’s decision to join LIHA Beauty wasn’t part of her initial plan after exiting Afrocenchix.  However, the opportunity to collaborate with LIHA’s founders, Abi Oyepitan and Liha Okunniwa—two women she holds in high esteem—was too good to pass up. 

A report from The Alliance for Entrepreneurial Equity has found a troubling decline in venture capital and other forms of funding for Black-owned businesses. While the number of Black-owned businesses are growing, they  are severely underrepresented compared to their population making up only 2.5% of all businesses. In recent years, Black-owned businesses have faced challenges in securing funding, a trend that blocks their growth and reflects issues within the American financial landscape.  The Alliance for Entrepreneurial Equity’s latest report, a collaboration between the National Urban League and Third Way, illuminates

Two Black founders have teamed together to create Dreamward Ventures, a new Seattle-based fund that plans to invest in diverse founders, including early-stage startups led by Black entrepreneurs. Dreamward Ventures Dreamward Ventures offers early-stage capital, technical due diligence, and network connections to founders who need them most. According to GeekWire, founders Evan Poncelet and Jesse Posey met at a Seattle Angel Conference event and decided to address the gaps in venture capital for Black founders and investors. “It’s hard for the venture capitalists and angel groups to reach out to founders of color, specifically Black

In its fourth grant cycle, the Commemoration Fund has selected 32 grantees funds ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 to help mitigate racial inequalities. The Commemoration Fund, founded in 2020, supports efforts to correct social, political and economic injustices that impact Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and people of color in the community. Their funds address disparities rooted in white supremacy and systemic racism with sustainable, collaborative solutions. “The Commemoration Fund is uniquely situated to stimulate the transformative work necessary to address race-based inequities,” said Hannibal B. Johnson, board chair. “Through our strategic investments,

Social entrepreneurship non-profit Echoing Green is launching a $15.6 million fund to provide capital to help social innovators grow. The Signal Fund The Signal Fund will serve as a financial tool providing capital to social innovators at critical growth stages, especially founders with overlooked potential for scalable social impact. In 2019, research from Echoing Green and The Bridgespan Group showed that the revenues of Black-led organizations were 24% smaller than those of their white-led counterparts. The unrestricted net assets of the Black-led organizations were 76% smaller than their white-led counterparts.  Co-designed with Angel City Advisors

Mae Health Inc., a pioneering startup focusing on minority health, has closed an oversubscribed seed funding round led by Jumpstart Nova.  This investment will enable Mae to expand its tech-enabled services and tackle the significant disparities in Black maternal health outcomes.  The funding round saw contributions from a variety of investors, including the Astia Fund, Impact Engine, Joyance Partners, and Gratitude Railroad, alongside early backers like RH Capital and Bright Ventures. Tech-Enabled Solutions for Maternal Health In response to the maternal mortality rates and the prevalence of maternity care deserts,

Acclinate, a Birmingham, Alabama-based healthcare technology company, has completed a $7 million Series A funding round.  The funding round, led by Cencora Ventures and supported by Labcorp and Latimer Ventures, aimed to enhance Acclinate’s efforts to promote health equity and transform the inclusivity of clinical trials. Transforming Clinical Trials through Trust and Technology Acclinate’s strategy aims to build trust and foster long-term relationships with diverse communities.  Their digital platform, NOWINCLUDED, is designed to educate and engage underrepresented groups in clinical trials, ensuring their inclusion in medical research.  The platform serves as an educational tool while

Marcy Venture Partners (MVP), co-founded by “Jay-Z” Carter, is reportedly nearing a significant merger with Pendulum Holdings’ investment arm Merger Talks According to Bloomberg, the merger could create a new entity with over $1 billion in assets under management. Sources close to the discussions, who preferred to remain anonymous, have indicated that the merger between these two California-based powerhouses is almost finalized. Both entities have declined to comment on these speculations.  Culture-driven investments Marcy Venture Partners, established in 2018 by Jay-Z alongside Jay Brown and Larry Marcus, has demonstrated an eye for culture-driven investments.  Its

Audible has recently welcomed four new minority-owned businesses into its Newark, NJ-based Business Attraction Program.  The initiative, launched in August 2023, aims to bolster the local economy by supporting startups through financial backing and expert mentorship.  Empowering Diverse Founders The focus on minority-owned companies, especially those led by Black women, comes at an important time.  Nationally, Black-owned businesses receive one percent of venture funding.  Audible’s program seeks to change this disparity by offering each company up to substantial non-dilutive grants of $250,000.  These funds are allocated for office space, relocation, and local

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