Updated: Dec 31, 2020
If you're not in, then you're missing out. Black Girl Ventures has officially launched BGV Connect! BGV Connect is a space for Black and Brown women founders to learn, connect, and be encouraged. Here women are creating authentic business relationships, can access exclusive content, and learn vital entrepreneurial skills like building their brands, scaling their businesses, and raising capital. We will be featuring a series of members who have been involved since the inception of BGV Connect to give you a personal vantage point of how this community has impacted them personally and professionally.
We caught up with Imani of Pointedspaces Photography. She is an artist, an educator, and a healer. Her photography focuses on capturing the essence of under-recognized people, specifically POCs, women, plus-sized people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups. Her work is rooted in transforming and rewriting the commercial and systematic narratives of Black and Brown people. For Imani, the lack of representation in the business world left her feeling discouraged.
Finding Community in a Crisis
She stumbled into the BGV ecosystem when she continued to hit dead ends in finding access to capital as a Black woman. After attending her first co-working session held on BGV Connect, she knew she had found the community she needed. While quarantined, she connected with people who looked like her, who are business-focused and have a genuine desire to teach others as well as the desire to see other people succeed.
Accessing Social Capital
Imani shared what her experiences have been like at the co-working sessions. She can turn to others in the group to ask for feedback on her business. She's been able to hop on calls with other members to flush out ideas and talk about their businesses, but also, the best part has been being able to create connections.
A Culturally Relevant Business Education
Another crucial element of BGV Connect she says has been the BGV Talks series and taking classes through BGV University. The events have been very educational, and it's an excellent opportunity for her to receive the knowledge she needs to scale her business. But what she also values the most is the chance to hear other people share their experiences in the business world. Lastly, she says, BGV listens. BGV Connect will ask the members what they need and will do their best to find it and provide it for the community.
When asked how the community has impacted her, she took a pause and a deep breath. She was unsure of where and how to begin. One of her main frustrations was when she was applying for capital for her business; she was getting denied. When she attended pitch competitions and workshops where people were talking about access to capital, something critical was missing.
Changing the Narrative
There was no one applying, directing, or leading that looked like her or were in the beginning stages of their businesses. Everything seemed out of reach because the people she was encountering either had polished businesses or they were well-connected. She felt discouraged, but she knew there had to be a way for her to break into the business world and receive the support she needed while she was getting her businesses off the ground. And now, through BGV Connect, she's been able to meet other entrepreneurs and receive access to knowledge that she wasn't able to tap into before. She also appreciates how accessible the community has been and the generosity of the other members. She was able to receive tech support from a member of the group without even asking.
What Would You Like The World To Know About Black Girl Ventures?
Imani says, "That we exist. I think that especially with the way the world is right now, that we have so many facets to us, we're multi-dimensional. I'd like to think of the Black community as a kaleidoscope with different perspectives. I think that we have so much to offer the world, and I think it's important that people realize that our businesses need to exist just as much as any other race. I would go as far as they need to exist more, because as an educator, I don't think my students have ever met anyone like me, not from my background, my family, and my drive. My students don't see people like me doing things that seem to be White accessed."
BGV is a matter of self-preservation for Black and Brown women. It's the idea of preserving Black and Brown women businesses. It's about legacy. BGV created an ecosystem for women to connect, to provide access to opportunities that weren't there before, to provide education, and so much more. Again, if you're not in, then you're missing out.
"The world needs to see that we can thrive and that we've been thriving." Imani Schectman