Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has launched a new initiative that will invest in and support Black technology startup founders and entrepreneurs.
According to a study by RateMyInvestor and VC Diversity, black founders of companies receive less than 1% of all venture capital funding, which in the U.S. alone, totaled approximately $130 billion. Similarly, a Kauffman Foundation analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that 28% of Black entrepreneurs’ profits were limited by lack of access to capital, compared to just 10% of white entrepreneurs.
Led by Accenture Ventures, the Black Founders Development Program will seek to help Black business owners and leaders advance and grow their technology businesses through direct access to venture capital, corporate mentorship and strategic connections with Accenture business partners and clients.
As part of the new program, Accenture Ventures is establishing the Black Founders Development Fund, which will make strategic investments in early-stage, Black-founded and -run software startups and other market development initiatives, applying the firm’s technology, innovation and investment expertise, and network of technology ecosystem partners.
The fund will have an initial focus on North America, with plans to expand globally at a later date.
Kathryn Ross, global Open Innovation lead, is the Black Founders Development Program lead for Accenture Ventures.
She will be supported by an Advisory Council made up of diverse, established business leaders and partners to help guide and mentor Black founders and CEOs. The first two council members appointed are:
- Kay Koplovitz, founder of USA Networks and the current chairman and co-founder of Springboard Enterprises, a community of nearly 800 women founders and leaders of emerging growth companies spanning the globe and across all industries; and
- Corey E. Thomas, chairman and CEO of Rapid7, Inc. (Nasdaq: RPD), a provider of security analytics and automation, who previously served on the U.S. Commerce Department’s Digital Economy Board of Advisors.
The Black Founders Development Program is part of Accenture’s broader effort to fight racism.