In 2021, Black entrepreneurs received a record $5.1 billion in venture capital (Crunchbase). Sadly, this number still only accounted for a paltry 1.5 percent of all venture funding for the year. In 2022, with the economic downturn, total venture capital dollars dwindled and Black founders took the brunt with a disproportionately larger drop in investments. “When the U.S. economy has a cold, the Black community has pneumonia,” said Paul Judge, managing partner and co-founder of Atlanta-based Panoramic Ventures.
PS27 Ventures Hosts Inaugural Black Founders Forum
In an effort to address the alarming trend of underfunding for Black founders, PS27 Ventures will be hosting the inaugural Black Founders Forum in Jacksonville, Florida. The goal of the forum is “to attract and inspire more people to become entrepreneurs and innovators,” said PS27 CEO Jim Stallings.
EqualLevel Joins Industry Leaders As Bronze Sponsor
When EqualLevel co-founder Orville Bailey first learned of the Black Founders Forum, he was eager for EqualLevel to join industry leaders PwC, Deloitte, and JPMorgan Chase in sponsoring the event. “EqualLevel is passionate about supporting initiatives that provide Black founders and entrepreneurs with opportunities to overcome barriers, unlock their potential, and drive meaningful change,” said Bailey of the sponsorship. An accomplished Black founder in his own right, Bailey is deeply committed to supporting and empowering Black individuals, businesses, and entrepreneurs. Prior to EqualLevel, Bailey co-founded and served as CEO for B2eMarkets, a pioneer and market leader in enterprise eSourcing. In this role, Bailey helped raise over $60 million in venture investment.
EqualLevel’s DEI Commitment
EqualLevel is steadfast in its commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion for its employees, clients, and the wider community. The company proudly collaborates with several Black-owned businesses through its eProcurement Marketplace and EqualLevel GO software products. EqualLevel GO, in particular, provides underrepresented suppliers with access to technology that enables their products to achieve the same visibility on eProcurement marketplaces as that of their larger competitors. The platform not only levels the playing field for disadvantaged businesses, but it also helps satisfy supplier diversity requirements for buyers.
Bailey will join 30 founders, 40 investors, and 350 attendees at the Black Founders Forum, which coincides with Juneteenth. “Founders will learn how to build sustainable businesses that create jobs, positive returns for shareholders, and personal wealth,” said Stallings. Attendees will have the opportunity to network with Black founders and venture capitalists and attend a panel discussion on the Power of Capital. Throughout the conference participants will be able to explore the Entrepreneur and Business Partner Showcase comprising 30 Black-owned companies that will be onsite to showcase their products and services. Carla Harris, Morgan Stanley Senior Client Advisor, will deliver the keynote address, and the event will culminate with a Shark Tank-style pitch competition with five founders competing for a $250,000 venture capital investment.
For more information on the Black Founders Forum, or to get involved, go to https://ps27foundation.org/.