Lack of access to capital is a big challenge, but so is the lack of access to networks and advisors.

When Natasia Malaihollo and her cofounder raised $1.5 million for their startup Wyzerr, she became part of a very small group. As a woman of color, Malaihollo was one of only a dozen who’ve raised over $100,000 in outside investments for their businesses, according to early data from Digital Undivided’s Project Diane.

Statistics compiled from CB Insights reports by Project Diane indicate that between 2012-2014, startups led by African-American women comprised less than 0.2% of all the venture deals in that time period.

Wyzerr’s funding was led by Connetic Ventures, which Malaihollo points out has Meena Maddali, a woman of color as partner and chief operating officer. “The reason a lot of us [women and minorities] don’t get funded is because a lot of investors don’t look like us,” Malaihollo contends.

Maddali tells Fast Company that although Connetic is barely a year old, “As of today, we’ve made investments into 20 companies, 55% of which have either a woman and/or minority cofounder, and 80% of which have a woman and/or minority in a leadership position.” But Maddali is quick to point out Connetic didn’t start investing in women- and minority- led companies consciously. “It’s more of a happy coincidence,” she says.

The same is true for FAN Fund, which focuses on investing in early stage companies in the state of Florida. The organization, which took part in a funding round of $1.4 million in Fattmerchant (a fintech company founded by a woman named Suneera Madhani) was launched at the end of 2015. At that time, founding partner Kathy Chiu says they “simply focused on picking the most promising investments with the most capable and passionate founding teams.”

Six months later, she reports that FAN Fund’s first two investments were founded by women, and two of the founders in our first five deals were of minority background.  “With this experience, it’s clear to us that companies led by women and minority entrepreneurs will be a substantial part of our investments, as both groups bring the ideas, passion, and capabilities to thrive in our local community as well as nationally,” says Chiu…READ NOW

Written By: Lydia Dishman

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