Black Women in startups: an interview to DigitalUndivided

After the report about Black Women in startups in the US, Danielle Robinson Bell, Director of Communications for DigitalUndivided, explains the reasons behind their findings. 

According to your organization, what is the first cause of this “lagging behind” for Black women?

Simply put, the playing field is not level for Black women when it comes to access to funding, knowledge, and networking in the startup space for many reasons. One of the reasons we like to highlight is the responsibilities Black women have to their families and their communities. Many households in the African-American community are headed by Black women and many Black families still rely on matriarchal support (financial, emotional, spiritual) to survive. This is a challenge that is unique to women of color. 

Is there a category of startups in which Black women are more numerous?

We know that Black women are the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs in the country. ProjectDiane examines Black women founders in innovative fields like tech but that’s not to say Black women aren’t represented in other categories. They most certainly are.

What do you think the future holds especially for black women in the startup field?

We’ve noticed some progress since our first ProjectDiane research study was released in 2016. There are more Black women who have raised over $1MM in outside funding. There are more investments being made in startups run by Black women. At digitalundivided, we have educated and mentored hundreds of Black women founders through our BIG Incubator program and other programming initiatives. We remain the first and only organization laser focused on this work. Still, there’s more work to be done within startup ecosystems to help support these founders along their journey. 

Are startups changing something for black women?  I would imagine that having the chance to finance one’s startup would be easier.

It’s actually the other way around. Black women are changing the way the startup scene looks at innovation and founders. Before our research study ProjectDiane was first released in 2016, innovation and entrepreneurship was very male and very white, as were the founders who had the most success. Today, entrepreneurship and innovation are beginning to look and feel a lot more inclusive because of the work we’re doing and the much-needed spotlight on this topic. Startups aren’t saying “hey come in” … instead, Black women founders are saying “hey we’re here”