From the internet to the world’s first vaccine, the United Kingdom has long been home to groundbreaking ideas that have changed the world. Great ideas come from everywhere, but in most cases, an idea alone isn’t enough to bring an invention or a business to life. Funding plays a key role in turning a brainstorm into a business venture.
Unfortunately, startup founders do not have equal access to funding. In 2020, less than 0.25% of venture capital (VC) funding went to Black-led startups in the U.K. and only 38 Black founders received venture capital funding in the last 10 years. Black founders are disproportionately over-mentored, yet underfunded, and in many cases not being given access to the resources needed to turn great ideas into great businesses.
Nobody wins in this cycle of underrepresentation. Black founders miss out on opportunities to bring their vision to life, investors miss out on opportunities for worthwhile returns, and society as a whole misses out on innovative solutions that were never given the opportunity to grow as they should.
That’s why in 2021 we launched the firstBlack Founders Fund in Europe to help tackle the inequality in venture capital, and today we’re launching a new fund, twice the size, and inviting Black-led startups to apply for a total of $4 million worth of non-dilutive cash awards.
Some say there’s a pipeline problem when it comes to funding black startups, but we know this isn’t true: last year we received almost 800 applications from across Europe. Some of the exceptional British startups that received last year’s funding range from Axela’s data-enhanced healthcare solutions to Kami’s virtual support systems for parents.
Our teams partnered with ITV, WPP, Allen & Overy and Soho House to offer last year’s 20 U.K.-based founders free advertising opportunities, legal support and co-working space, in addition to Google Cloud grants and ads support. This gave the founders the time and resources needed to grow their businesses, and the results speak for themselves: last year’s group raised over $63 million (approx £48 million) in subsequent funding and increased their staff headcount by 21%!
In the video above, two UK-based founders, Rachael Corson, founder of haircare line Afrocenchix, and Ismail Jeilani, founder of education influencer platform Scoodle, discuss the fund’s impact on their businesses and explain why more Black founders should apply for this year’s fund.