Startups are Mostly Led by White Men. One Company is Working to Change That.

Published on August 31, 2018

As one of the most influential women in tech, Kathryn Finney began to notice a trend in the entrepreneurship world. Over time, Finney saw the same pattern emerging. Mainly, that there was a stark contrast in what startup founders looked like. Specifically, women of color were hugely underrepresented. In addition, when they were fundraising for their startups, women of color saw a shockingly disproportionate investment amount compared to their peers. Instead of waiting for this to change, Finney stepped into the role herself by founding her own solution, a social enterprise called digitalundivided (DID) in 2013. DID’s programs share one common goal: “encouraging women of color (WOC) to own their economic security through entrepreneurship.”

DID has one mantra: “Go Big or Go Home”.

It doesn’t take too long of looking over their numbers to see that they are doing just that. The Atlanta based social enterprise has defined itself by training, mentoring, and providing support to Black and Latinx entrepreneurs. However, it is not just the financial component that DID provides. The foundation of the enterprise is based on knowledge, research, and community. 

“At digitalundivided, we take a transformative approach to economic security and innovation,” says digitalundivided founder and managing director, Kathryn Finney. “We empower Black and Latinx women to OWN their work through entrepreneurship and technology. We do this through our programs and initiatives like the BIG Incubator and the ProjectDiane reports.”

For DID, knowledge comes in the form of the BIG incubator. Over a 9 month period, the hand-selected cohort will expand the individuals training and experience in customer, product, and company development. However, the incubator is not all about education. It also provides mentorship and an event that presents a moment for connecting their business to others. The experience culminates with a demo day. The event allows each member the opportunity to present their business or product to potential investors and partners as well as the community at large.

DID is also looking at the numbers behind the li rates of women in color led startups.

The main research initiative, Project Diane, is “a biennial demographic study authored by digitalundivided that provides a snapshot of the state of Black Women Founders, and the startups they lead, in the United States.” The findings so far are shocking, adding a further urgency to the work of DID. For example, while black women make up 14% of the U.S. population, of the almost 7,000 startups with women founders funded in 2017, less than 4% were led by black women. In addition, these same startups receive roughly .0006% of total investments from tech venture funding. The full report is worth checking out.

Rounding out all of this innovative information and training is the community that DID brings. DID is ensuring that no one is left alone in the entrepreneurship journey by hosting events throughout the year, from book clubs to chats to networking.

So far, DID’s numbers essentially speak for themselves. They have encouraged the building of 52 different companies, raised $25 million in investments, and reached 2000 founders. Led by a powerhouse team of women, digitalundivided does not look to be slowing down any time soon.

Alicia Raeburn is a Former Contributor at GritDaily.

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