In “The Real Unicorns of Tech: Black Founders Women,” a recent report by #ProjectDiane, you’ll come across several startling statistics like, for example, of all venture deals from 2012 to 2014, only 0.2% (24 of 10,238 deals) went to went to black female founders.
In researching the state of black women in tech, #ProjectDiane examined over 60,000 startups and identified just 88 led by black women. Though, the bigger pictures shows that there’s been a 322% increase in the number of black female-led businesses since 1997. Today, there are over 1.5 million businesses ran by black women in the U.S. — over 100,000 of which are technical companies. Though, a lot of those companies are consultancies.
On average, black female-led startups raise just $36,000 of outside funding, according to the report. There are only 11 startups founded by black women that have raised more than $1 million in VC funding.
“digitalundivided conducted this research in order to quantify the problem and then use the results to as the foundation to building evidence based programs,” Darlene Gillard, partnership director at digitalundivided said. “Prior to this report there was really no discussion on intersectionality in the startup world, outside conversations about employment. The information on Black women and tech entrepreneurship was purely anecdotal. So we would say it was “bad”, what was exactly did that mean? Now that the information is out there, and we decided to release it even though we could have kept it to ourselves, organizations can make decisions on whether or not to move forward. But, no one can say they didn’t know there was a problem.”
The report outlines solutions such as redefining entrepreneurship, financially supporting accelerators and other programs that produce and shape black female founders, and increasing black female founders’ access to capital.
Regarding redefining entrepreneurship, the report suggests people and companies in the tech industry stop sponsoring conferences that don’t have diverse speakers and create a mandate that at least 13% of annual marketing or operations budgets go to efforts that feature or support women of color.
“Years of institutionalized racism, sexism, and classism, as well as the pressures of being the ‘representative’ of an entire culture of people, has made failure a costly proposition to many potential Founders of color, especially Black women,” the report states. “Solutions must extend past the creation of scholarships or “remedial” accelerator programs within prominently white male accelerator programs and focus on an expanded definition of entrepreneurship, where calculated risks are encouraged and supported, and the goal isn’t assimilation, but valuing the potential of these markets.”