Indianapolis-based Elevate Ventures this week launched a program to provide support Black, Brown and women entrepreneurs. The early-stage venture capital firm says Elevate Me will give entrepreneurs the opportunity to connect with one-on-one consulting, pathways to resources and entrepreneurship support organizations, and investments.
Titi Obasanya, entrepreneur-in-residents at Elevate Ventures, is leading the program and tells Inside INdiana Business they want to fill the gaps affecting minority entrepreneurs.
“There is disparity in funding when it comes to minority entrepreneurs, and we all know the figures,” said Obasanya. “We understand that there is a lot of stakeholder intervention that is trying to solve funding gaps especially when it comes these groups that we’re talking about, but we know that it’s not sufficient and it’s not enough.”
The firm cites data from PitchBook that says only 2.4% of venture capital in the U.S. went to companies solely founded by women. Another report from Crunchbase Diversity Spotlight found 1.3% went to Black-founded startups, while 2.1% went to Latinx-founded startups.
Elevate has set aside $13 million to invest in traditionally underserved, high-growth, high-potential companies and entrepreneurs throughout the state.
To be eligible for funding, companies must be owned and controlled by Black, Brown and women founders, in addition to other qualifying businesses based on geographic, demographic and/or socioeconomic factors.
Obasanya says while Indiana is a smaller ecosystem, it’s a very well connected one that is growing.
“Innovation can come from anywhere, and we have seen innovation come from literally everywhere across the state. So, there will always been growth,” she said. “The kind of success metrics that we’re looking at for this program [are] how have we made it very simple and clear for minority entrepreneurs to be able to find the support that they need when required?”
Obasanya adds another key component of Elevate Me program is storytelling.
“We understand the impact of stories. We want to fill the hope minority entrepreneurs by telling more stories of people like them that have successfully launched and scaled companies here in Indiana and across the U.S.”