The National Association of Women Business Owners reports women of color as owning nearly half of all woman-owned businesses in America, raking in over a 3rd of total annual revenues. The data is undeniable. Numbers get a little skewed when investigating just how much of an investment was made at startup.
However, the data is there when it comes to forecasting the success of a company. Cynthia McClain-Hill, president of the National Association of Women Business Owners informs us that “…we do know that women business owners with revenues exceeding $1 million are more likely than their male counterparts to be doing business internationally.” This information makes it easier to know what it takes to be great but it doesn’t place potential black businesswomen in any better position to secure much-needed initial investments.
Enter Arlan Hamilton, founder and managing partner of Backstage Capital, a venture fund pregnant with $36 million to invest in businesses developed by black women. This is not a test of the emergency negro switch. No Tubmanian saviour has come to end the bondage of slavery. Arlan Hamilton is indeed a black woman who has lived a full life, but besides all the flack she’s gotten from social media, she’s only interested further developing esteemed businesses and ideas led by black women.
Over a decade ago, she published Interlude Magazine using her gift of networking, gathering writers, publishers, and artists to donate their talent. In recent years, black women have started businesses at record rates utilizing the same use-what-you-got mentality. Wherever the surge of black woman magic is coming from, Hamilton aims to harness and monetize it to the glory of future generations. It’s about damn time too! Women-owned businesses have, historically, received less than 3% of venture capital dollars. Black woman-owned business received a meager .2% of the 3%… now make a meme THAT for the ‘gram!
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As telling as these numbers may be, there are still some criticizing Hamilton’s move as both prejudice and exclusionary. There was an array of pseudo-liberal code words for You-ain’t-stertin’-us-and-we-mad. Amidst all the name-calling, there was one epithet that was conveniently left from the fray. No one said Hamilton was racist.
“They’re calling it a diversity fund,” tweeted Hamilton. “I’m calling it an IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME Fund.” WORD! Hamilton’s recognizance visit to Silicon Valley garnered more than a seat at the table for herself. It would appear that Hamilton plans on turning the table around for more than a few black women, specifically and on purpose. She announced that the fund will be deployed $1 million at a time at the recent United State of Women Summit in L.A.
Black women can apply for VC funding on Hamilton’s company website. Arlan Hamilton is insistant that this is not charitable giving and seeks to reconstruct Black Women as ‘needy’ in today’s business economy. It should go without saying, and in The Freq Sheets it definitely does, ‘serious inquiries only.’
Back$tage Capital is Arlan Hamilton’s venture capital firm.