July 18, 2017

Black Girl Vision

Black Girl Vision (BGV) is a social enterprise dedicated to finding creative solutions to dissolve the race and gender gap in access to capital. Our mission is to expose women of color to economic independence via empowerment and entrepreneurship by developing initiatives in micro-finance, business development and community building.

Black Girl Vision was founded in August 2016 by serial entrepreneur, artist and author, Shelly Bell. The idea felt random and simple, “women are not getting access to capital for their business, well let’s get them access to capital for their businesses,” Shelly proclaims.

She created a Meetup.com group and within a couple weeks the membership went from 0 to 150 and kept climbing. Shelly launched the first event called “Eat, Pitch, Vote” with the simple idea to bring women of color (WOC) together to discuss entrepreneurship, partnership, and support through collective economics. About 30 women were in attendance and ready to support each other with the intent of growing their businesses. Since then, visibility has grown rapidly “Eat, Pitch, Vote” is now “Boss Up.” Event attendance has grown from 30 to over 50 people per event. The number of applications received has grown from 4 to over 40 for each event.

“Boss Up” is BGV’s signature pitch competition. As method of combating the lack of access to capital in our community we convene and collect donations to create the “vision fund.” Women of color sign up to pitch their ideas, the community votes and one woman walks away with seed funding for her business. Along with funding she receives an accounting consultation, a legal consultation, 12 free t-shirts for her business and more! Black Girl Vision also hosts social gatherings, networking and story sharing events.

Historically, African Americans have been finding creative ways to fund themselves for decades. The “Boss Up” Pitch Competition is patterned after what has been known in African American culture as a “rent party.” In the early 1920’s over 200, 000 negroes migrated to Harlem for job opportunities. Due to discriminatory rental rates it became challenging to pay the rent. Harlemnites would charge an admission fee, invite musicians to play and raise the money to pay the rent with basement parties.

Currently, black women are starting businesses at 6 times the national average, but are not seeing the same receipts as other founders. The majority of Venture Capitalist are white males who are more likely to invest in people who “look like them.” Loans have been noted (in recent years) as discriminating against people of color. There are 3 major areas where women of color are in need of support: access to capital, access to influential networks and the ability to hire employees. The lack of access to capital for women is becoming a more prevalent part of the entrepreneurial conversation however solutions to solve the issue are still evolving.

Black Girl Vision is specifically focused on creating access to capital for women. All programming is centered on addressing this issue head on. The Boss Up Pitch Competition uses the rent party model to create a space where the community invests their money and time into the women who sign up to pitch. The Money Trees Bootcamp flips traditional  business development training on it’s side by addressing every part of business development from the angle of access to capital.

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