Blavity made headlines when it became one of the few Black-owned companies to raise more than $12 million in venture capital and now the global media company, created by and for Black Millenials and Gen-Z, has set its sights on helping others do the same. The founders, Morgan DeBaun, Aaron Samuels and Jeff Nelson announced last week a new racial equity and social impact organization named Blavity.org.
Morgan DeBaun, co-founder and CEO of Blavity, oversees a network of five sites — Blavity.com, 21ninety.com, Travelnoire.com, AfroTech.com, and Shadowandact.com — and believes it’s important for all companies to invest in Black economic empowerment. In an email to Marcom Weekly, DeBaun says, “Black Americans have never had an equal ability to reap the benefits of business ownership.”
Research cited from a 2019 McKinsey Survey of Consumer Finances shows that while about 15 percent of white Americans hold some business equity, approximately five percent of Black Americans do. Among those with business equity, the average Black American’s business equity is worth about half of the average American’s and a third of the average white American’s. This unfortunate disadvantage inspired the founders to establish a nonprofit organization aimed at directly impacting the success of minority-owned businesses. This inspires Blavity.org’s core mission to drive, support and amplify Black economic achievement and mobility.
“At Blavity we have always been focused on giving back to our community, and with Blavity.org we are directly supporting other entrepreneurs, like us, who need sponsorship,” said Jeff Nelson, Blavity, Inc. co-founder and chief technology officer. “I believe strongly in paying it forward and want to invoke the lessons we learned on our own journey. Plus, playing the role of connector for these entrepreneurs can put minority-owned business leaders on a path to greater equity. Our Growth Fellowship program will give entrepreneurs the tools and resources needed to scale their businesses, navigate the world of funding opportunities and develop actionable strategies to drive long-term wealth and sustainability.”
Blavity.org launches its first fellowship program accelerating the success of Black entrepreneurs this month. The Blavity.org Growth Fellowship is a six-month program that focuses on scaling teams, operations and systems to a select group of Black entrepreneurs through advising, grants, business tools and sponsorship from industry leaders. According to Blavity.org’s website, each fellow will receive a $10,000 non-dilutive grant, free technology and will be assigned a sponsor for the duration of the program. These resources are provided by corporate partners and sponsors, including launch partners Adidas and Logitech.
Twelve fellows across three categories were chosen to participate in 2021. The categories from which these fellows will be selected are: creatives including journalists, artists and storytellers; start-ups such as venture-backed pre-seed stage startups; and product and retail and apparel. The Growth Fellowship program will run twice a year and impact at least 24 entrepreneurs per year, eventually scaling to 60 fellows by 2023.
The fellowship offers to coach selected entrepreneurs on various topics including executive leadership. It delivers technical and digital skills such as data analysis, marketing, pricing and hiring.