On Saturday, February 29th, over 110 Black entrepreneurs and creatives gathered in Brooklyn, New York for an afternoon of mingling and sharing resources. The sold out Official Black Wall Street Brunch for Black History Month centered around an insightful and transparent panel on funding options for Black-owned businesses, or as one of our panelists gracefully put it... securing the bag using "OPM" (Other People's Money). Studies show that Black entrepreneurs receive less venture capital funding than our counterparts. The Washington Post even reported that when Black entrepreneurs seek bank financing, they are less likely to be approved than equally qualified white counterparts. If they are approved, interest rates are 32% higher on average. If these statistics have shown us anything, it's that it's crucial for us to share resources and engage in solution-based conversations around funding for Black businesses. Thus we assembled a panel of experts and entrepreneurs to have a candid conversation about the steps and challenges of raising capital as a Black entrepreneur, and how we can better prepare ourselves to overcome them.
Of course, it wouldn't be brunch without some of our favorite dishes. The event started with mixing and mingling over brunch bites from our sponsor Bites BK and mimosas.
After a brief introduction from each panelist, the gems began flowing. Naj Austin, serial entrepreneur and Founder/CEO of Ethel's Club, the first private social and wellness club platform for people of color, painted a vivid picture of the challenges she faced when pitching Ethel's Club to non-POC investors and advice on how to navigate those conversations. Next on the panel was Trinity Mouzon Wofford, Co-Founder and CEO of Golde, a superfood health and beauty company, who became the youngest woman of color to launch a line at Sephora. After self-funding the launch and initial growth of her startup, she made her entrance into the world of VC funding. Trinity left the audience with invaluable insight on the not-so-glamourous side of having products available at big box stores and how she was able to raise funds for launch without an investor.
Brandon Bryant, Co-Founder of Harlem Capital, an early-stage venture capital fund investing in companies started by people of color and women, gave sage advice about when Black entrepreneurs should begin seeking venture capital funding, one of the biggest reasons why you might be turned down (hint: know your numbers!) and more. Last but not least was Willie Blalock, the Market President of Industrial Bank, one of the largest Black-owned banks in the country. Having experience on both sides of the desk as an entrepreneur and a bank personnel, Willie gave more insight into how Industrial Bank works to make sure Black entrepreneurs are not faced with the same uphill battles when trying to secure a business loan, when the time is right to seek a loan and how to make those funds work for your business.
The audience left with invaluable information and resources to help them navigate the world of funding, whether their method of choice is crowdfunding, VC, bank financing or bootstrapping. Each attendee also took home gift bags with items from Black-owned businesses including Bazile Sauce, PM Fragrances, Nursery Rhymes & Rhythms, Oh It's Natural, and more. If you missed this event, there are many more to come! Join our mailing list and stay tuned for our upcoming event announcements.