Like many other business owners, the pandemic forced me to throw out my existing plans for 2020 and make a new plan. I was frustrated about how difficult it was for women and POC to receive financial support for their businesses. Experts are saying that as many as 42% of Black-owned businesses will close because of COVID-19. The numbers are devastating. From April onward, entrepreneur after entrepreneur started calling me for help.
A part of me thought about closing EnrichHER and returning to a 9-to-5 life. It took more than a year to get my startup through regulatory compliance before we could even start helping people. At the time of the nationwide shutdown, the EnrichHER Funding platform had only been up and running for a year. During that year, I learned that many people who said they supported women-led businesses or Black-owned businesses wouldn’t put any actual dollars behind their public proclamations. It’s a reality that continues to frustrate me.
Not gonna lie, going back to the easy life of a regular paycheck, especially during a pandemic, sounded amazing. I’m qualified to do a range of roles—COO, program manager, engineer, developer, accountant, consultant—so I wasn’t worried about finding a job. In fact, I kind of mentioned during a Zoom call that I might look for a job and immediately received two offers. Regardless, I’ve known for more than a decade that my motivation was helping people find their economic power. If not me, then who? Deep down, I knew that I couldn’t give up on EnrichHER.
Instead, I asked myself how EnrichHER could continue to support businesses with women in leadership positions. How could we support all kinds of businesses, not just startups and not just tech companies? Did our existing funding model need tweaking? After months of work, I am ready to unveil EnrichHER Accelerator + Funder Matching Program, our new program for funders who want to support vetted New Majority founders whose businesses are underinvested.
EnrichHER Accelerator + Funder Matching Program companies have been in business for at least a year. EnrichHER, in general, does not currently accept early-stage startups. Who knows, I may choose to create a specific program for that kind of company at a future date, perhaps for founders who are college students and recent graduates, but for now, I am focused primarily on businesses that already have at least $150K in yearly revenue. Our first cohort of EnrichHER Accelerator + Funder Matching Program companies grossed between $75K and $4M in 2019. I focus on founders who belong to underrepresented and underinvested groups in their respective industries.
For example, a study revealed that Black women received .0006% of venture capital investment between 2009 and 2017. Despite Black women being the most educated people in the country and starting businesses in greater numbers than any other racial demographic, Silicon Valley doesn’t trust the entrepreneurial skills of women like me, apparently, who have two bachelor’s degrees, a master’s degree in information technology, and a Ph.D. in systems engineering. Which is exactly why I founded in EnrichHER in 2018 and launched it in 2019. My vision is to use EnrichHER to support 100,000 businesses with women founders, women CEOs, and women in leadership positions. And to make funding those businesses accessible for all kinds of investors, not just the wealthy.
18.21 Bitters in a beverage company that makes craft syrups, tinctures, and shrubs with delightfully unusual flavors, such as Japanese Chili & Lime, Grapefruit Lavender, and Earl Grey. Founders Missy and Kristin Koefod raised seed funding in a 2014 Kickstarter campaign. 18.21 Bitters is now carried in 48 states and six countries and has a retail store in Atlanta’s Ponce City Market. Learn more about 18.21 Bitters here.
Femly manufactures and delivers sustainable women’s healthcare products. Founded by Arion Long, who calls herself the First Estrogen Officer, the brand’s products are BPA and dioxin-free. Unlike most menstruation products, which can take up to 120 years to biodegrade, Femly’s line of organic pads and liners is eco friendly and chemical free. Learn more about Femly here.
Freeman Capital helps customers close the wealth gap by providing wealth management for the price of a Netflix subscription. Founded by Calvin Williams, Jr., the firm provides financial planning, investment management, and insurance at scale. Freeman serves customers who are first-time investors and first-generation investors. Learn more about Freeman here.
Handsome is the leading career and education app for beauty and barber professionals. Founders April and Nikki Dominguez are disrupting archaic business practices in a $60B industry by offering three services to beauty professionals: 1) Career Advice, 2) On-going Education, 3) Job Listings. Nearly 90% of hairstylists and cosmetologists are women. Sixty-six percent of barbers are Black or Latinx. Learn more about Handsome here.
LAMIK Beauty creates vegan products for Black women, a demographic that spends 80% more on cosmetics than other women, but only receives 10% of retail shelf space. Founder Kim Roxie created LAMIK after discovering that 75% of the products marketed to WOC were toxic. Learn more about LAMIK here.
LifeChangers Academy is a franchise-based, early childhood learning center company. Founded by Davida Anderson, it serves children, from 6 weeks old to 13 years old, and leverages Anderson’s 25+ years of experience in child development. She is part of the third generation of educators in her family and earned a degree in elementary and early childhood education. Learn more about LifeChangers here.
Lillii RNB is a boutique IT consulting firm that provides point-of-sale (POS), data analytics, fraud prevention, and IT staffing expertise to clients, such as The Gap, Home Depot, Pep Boys, and Old Navy. Founded by Barbara Jones, Lillii RNB’s signature product is Freeing Returns. Lillii RNB is a Woman Veteran Owned Small Business (WVOSB) that generated more than $4M in 2019. Learn more about Lilli RNB here.