the "B" stands for Black and Brown
The Black Girl Ventures Foundation is dedicated to offering comprehensive education and advisory services that outline a road map for the growth and success of minority and/or veteran women entrepreneurs. Our vision is to create a society where Black and Brown women founders have equitable access to social and financial capital to grow their businesses. Black and Brown women founders are underserved, unbanked and underfunded. It's time to change that! We currently host crowdfunded pitch competitions in DC, Baltimore, Austin, Chicago, Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, and New York. With the help of the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Google Cloud for Startups, HubSpot for Startups and Ed2Go we are moving beyond pitch competitions to create five Chapters we call Venture Boards in Birmingham, Houston, Miami, Durham and Philadelphia. These chapters will create access to capital, connections, and resources for the Black/Brown women in their local community.
It all started in a house in southeast, Washington, DC! Black Girl Ventures was founded in 2016 by Serial Entrepreneur, and Computer Scientist, Shelly Bell. "Women are not getting access to capital for their business, well let’s get them access to capital for their businesses,” Shelly proclaims. She created a Meetup.com group and within a couple weeks the membership went from 0 to 150 and kept climbing. Shelly launched the first event called “Eat, Pitch, Vote” with the simple idea to bring women of color (WOC) together to discuss entrepreneurship, partnership, and support through collective economics. About 30 women were in attendance and ready to support each other with the intent of growing their businesses. Since then, visibility has grown rapidly “Eat, Pitch, Vote” is now “The Black Girl Ventures Pitch Competition.” Event attendance has grown from 30 to over 100 people per event. The number of applications received has grown from 20 to 300+ applications a year.
Head of Expansion & Outreach
Sr. Digital Marketing Strategist
Esteem Logic + Pipeline Angels
Vice President, Dell Technologies
Co-Founder of Crux
Principal, Booz Allen Hamilton
1776 + K Street Angels
Women in Tech Campaign
The Black Girl Ventures Story Is Your Story
Currently, black women are starting businesses at 6 times the national average, but are not seeing the same receipts as other founders. There are 3 major areas where women of color are in need of support: access to capital, access to influential networks and the ability to hire employees. The lack of access to capital for women is becoming a more prevalent part of the entrepreneurial conversation however solutions to solve the issue are still evolving. Black Girl Ventures is specifically focused on creating access to capital for women. All programming is centered on addressing this issue head on.
Historically, African Americans have been finding creative ways to fund themselves for decades. The Black Girl Ventures Pitch Competition is patterned after the “Rent Party.” In the early 1920’s over 200, 000 Blacks migrated to Harlem for job opportunities. Due to discriminatory rental rates it became challenging to afford living expenses. Harlemnites would charge an admission fee, invite musicians to play and raise the money to pay the rent with basement parties. These parties were organized an attended by great Black artists such as Langston Hughes, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, etc.