Early-stage investment fund Collab Capital is continuing its mission to support Black communities and Black-founded companies with its inaugural fund.
Today, the Black-founded company announced the close of their $50 million fund to support its overarching goal to build generational wealth in Black communities. According to the company, the purpose of the debut fund is to invest “financial, human, and social capital” to effectively grow and sustain innovation amongst Black-owned businesses.
“For far too long, Black founders have been overlooked despite being the fastest growing entrepreneurial segment remaining the most under-funded and under-resourced group,” Collab Capital founder Jewel Burks Solomon tells us. “As founders ourselves, we’ve witnessed first-hand how difficult it can be to attract VC attention and secure funding, despite having successful business track records. We truly believe this is an important step in narrowing the racial wealth disparity while driving sustained economic recovery across our country.”
The new fund — led by founders Solomon, Barry Givens and Justin Dawkins — includes participation from limited partners such as Apple, Goldman Sachs, Google, Paypal, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Mailchimp and others.
“We’re proud to invest in Collab Capital’s efforts to create, grow and sustain wealth in the Black community,” Lisa Jackson — Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives — shared with AfroTech. “Through Apple’s Racial Equity and Justice Initiative, we’re committed to helping create a more equitable future for communities of color, including opening up access to capital and opportunity for underrepresented innovators and entrepreneurs.”
Grammy-winning Hip-Hop artist Lecrae also joins the fund as a growth partner alongside media executive and former Parkwood Entertainment associate Steve Pamon, who serves as an advisor. Both figures are bringing their industry expertise and relationships to the table to help drive scalability for the fund.
According to Pamon, Collab Capital uniquely positions itself to “eliminate the blatant disparity in funding early-stage companies led by Black entrepreneurs.” By offering an exclusive fund just for Black-owned businesses, Collab Capital offers these founders and their companies a fair shot at success.
“Collab Capital addresses a fundamental market problem,” Pamon tells AfroTech. “The false perception that the risk of investing in early-stage Black entrepreneurs is extreme. The reality is that the true risk is the same, [if not] better than, investing in entrepreneurial aspirations of any early-stage company.”
Growth partner Lecrae echoed these sentiments, expressing his desire to get involved in Collab Capital’s fund was to support a cause that deeply resonated with him and went beyond providing traditional capital to Black entrepreneurs.
“I’m involved with Collab [Capital] as a venture partner because I wanted to do more than invest money,” he says. “I’ve helped fund schools like Peace Preparatory Academy in Atlanta, housing programs and countless other things, but I hadn’t stepped into [venture capital]. Collab showed me a vision I hadn’t imagined and felt honored to be a part of. We are impacting the community in a unique and profound way.”
Collab Capital’s founders created the fund with a vision to create a path toward economic parity for Black communities all over by increasing ownership within the innovation economy. Though only one percent of Black founders are backed by venture capital, Collab Capital hopes to change this statistic and increase the growth of successful Black businesses by providing flexible funding, network access and community development.
“Black founders are among the fastest growing entrepreneurial segment, but to this day, they remain the most under-funded and under-resourced group,” managing partner Givens shared in a statement. “Collab Capital is excited to announce the close of Fund I and provide Black business owners with the capital and resources they need to achieve their full potential. We believe this is an important step in narrowing the racial wealth disparity while driving sustained economic recovery across our country.”
Collab Capital’s tailor-made approach to changing the venture capital landscape for Black founders is what will ultimately shift the narrative around wealth in our communities in the future.
“Collab is staking out a distinctive perspective as a Black-founded firm providing ‘capital solutions for Black entrepreneurs,'” Suzanne Gauron — Head of Launch at Goldman Sachs — shares with us. “They believe there is an equitable model for VC through partnership with founders, which provides upside in growing businesses to the founder, the VC firm and its investors. The Collab [general partners] have lived the venture capital journey and believe it is important to be responsible for growth for Black founders and communities.”
By placing its focus on “profitability, ownership, and optionality,” the new fund is creating the opportunity to offer efficient and unique solutions that hone in on the excellence that is Black innovation.
In addition to its inaugural fund, Collab Capital has also made it a point to invest in startups creating a better future for us, including Hairbrella, Music Tech Works, Jax Rideshare and DC-based startup Please Assist Me. Moving forward, the firm plans to invest in more than 50 Black-led companies over the next three to five years.
For more information and updates about Collab Capital, visit its website.