Black women are building and growing businesses faster than any other segment and yet receive less than one percent of venture capital funding. In addition, only three percent of the people actually leading investments at VC firms are Black according to the National Venture Capital Association. To help further access to funding for Black women, Mastercard today announced a multi-million dollar investment in Fearless Fund, a venture capital fund built by women of color for women of color.
“The significant investment gaps in women-founded companies, which is especially acute for Women of Color, holds everyone back,” said Michael Froman, president of strategic growth, Mastercard. “The need to narrow this gender and racial disparity is critical in driving forward innovation and fueling inclusive, sustained economic recovery across our country. We are investing in Fearless Fund and partnering to bring innovative programs to market to help Black women founders get access to the capital and resources they need to achieve their full potential.”
The investment will allow Fearless Fund to further expand its portfolio of women of color founded and co-founded companies in the CPG, Food & Beverage, Beauty, Fashion, and Technology sectors. Additionally, the social impact of the investment will have a significant role in job creation and wealth distribution in underserved communities.
“This multi-million dollar investment from Mastercard is further proof of their commitment to providing resources in an effort to better serve the hard-working but severely underfunded Women of Color entrepreneurs who so deserve equal capital distribution. We have been working together with Mastercard for almost 3 years now and look forward to growing this relationship,” says Arian Simone, Co-Founder & General Partner of Fearless Fund.
Mastercard has long been an advocate for the small business community and reinforced its investments to support Black communities with the introduction of its Strivers Initiative earlier this year. This initiative is focused on elevating the visibility of Black female business owners overcoming obstacles to maintain and grow their business while encouraging consumers and businesses alike to shop, share and support them.
In Solidarity Across U.S. Cities
Last year, Mastercard announced a half-billion-dollar commitment to support Black communities across the U.S. over the next five years, to help close the racial wealth and opportunity gap starting in seven cities. As part of that effort, the company is hosting a series of local In Solidarity events to address financial barriers and how to advance equitable growth. The tour includes Strivers programming, hosted by Arian Simone, General Partner and Co-Founder of Fearless Fund, and in partnership with Create & Cultivate, to drive awareness on the state of Black women-owned business in select cities across the U.S. local markets.
The Strivers events will foster dialogue with local leaders and small businesses around delivering on the needs of local businesses and the actions cities can take to advance an equitable business climate. To further underscore its commitment to this community, Mastercard and Fearless Fund launched the Fearless Strivers Grant Contest* to provide Black female small business owners across the U.S. who’ve been hit hardest by the pandemic with additional grants and tools to help grow their business.
These efforts build on Mastercard’s sustained commitment to building a more inclusive digital economy including its commitment to bring 50 million small and medium-sized businesses into the digital economy, specifically helping 25 million woman entrepreneurs grow their businesses.