By Ludmila Leiva
Despite undeniable progress in recent years, the fact remains: Being a woman founder comes with its fair share of challenges.
Whether it’s struggling to secure capital, gain investors’ trust, or finding sustainable ways to navigate the male-dominated world of business with their heads held high, women entrepreneurs face countless hurdles — often, even when they are sitting on an incredible business idea.
Though all women founders may run the risk of facing these difficulties, it’s harder for some women than others. In 2018, just2.2% of venture capital dollars went to women-led companies. But, when accounting for race, the statistics are even more grim. Black women reportedly receive less than 1% of venture capital, while just 0.4% goes to companies founded by Latinas. For some perspective, while women-led startups raised $1.9 billion in capital in 2017, Latina-led companies raised just $1.36 billion — over the course of the last ten years.
These numbers speak loudly, and are part of the reason why Shelly Bell has committed herself to her current work. Bell is the founder of Black Girl Ventures (BGV), an organization that works to provide access to capital for Black and Brown women entrepreneurs.
Bell’s professional background is circuitous; she identifies as a serial entrepreneur and is also a computer scientist, a poet, and a former high school teacher. After starting a successful apparel printing business, MsPrintUSA, where she partnered with big names like Amazon and Google, she began focusing on Black women-made products. In 2016, she founded BGV to help close the gap between Black and Brown-led companies and access to capital. To date, BGV has funded 24 women with no plans to stop.
Bell notes that communities of color tend to experience a lack of generational wealth. This lack of access to…