The growing number of Black and brown businesses in the United States goes hand-in-hand with the widening racial equity gap in the venture capital world.
To combat this, Mitch Brooks and Tristan Wilkerson — general partners of High Street Equity Partners — are using their impact and expertise to close that gap for founders of underrepresented businesses across the country.
According to theGrio, the duo has established a $15 million fund under the guise of principle and purpose to support businesses who have potential to thrive amid the pandemic.
Brooks tells the outlet, “I just felt really moved to do something in the formal investment vehicle and I spoke to Tristan about that and we started to do our due diligence and here we are today.”
theGrio shares that Brooks and Wilkerson — both long-time friends and angel investors in Black-owned businesses — named their fund after a historic street in Little Rock, AR to pay homage to what was once the center of business and innovation where Black and minority-owned businesses populated.
According to Brooks, his theory details what many believed to be failing businesses during the pandemic are actually businesses that should be viewed as opportunities.
“If you had a solid business model and if you were a good business operator, then the pandemic accelerated things for you and moved your revenue model up five to 10 years,” he tells theGrio. “I strongly believe that there are many businesses in this moment, Black-owned, minority-owned, that had a really solid business model. The reality is they need support and funding to keep up with their growth and how they are scaling, and they aren’t able to get their fair share of that like others.”
In turn, Wilkerson proposed a new way of creative problem-solving beyond investing that could potentially help these businesses become viable resources in building a better future.
He says, “Mitch and I are looking at this as ‘How do we shape the future? How do we empower founders of color, women founders to not just be able to build wealth, but to be able to take their rightful place in contributing their goods, services, technology, etc. to the marketplace?’”
The two partners have a goal to invest in 10 companies within their first year of operation, focusing on “underrepresented founders from underrepresented geographies with businesses that accrue $100,000 in annual revenue,” theGrio reports.
The firm aims to not only offer financial support, but partners Brooks and Wilkerson also wish to lend their operational and policy expertise as businessmen to push these businesses to scale up.
“Mitch and I have always sought to create opportunities and support for founders and emerging entrepreneurs to lead their best lives,” Wilkerson told AfroTech. High Street Equity Partners is the next iteration in that purposed endeavor. We’re excited to do our part in meaningfully supporting founders of color and women founders to make more equitable what we are calling the 21st-century everyday economy.”
For more information about High Street Equity Partners, visit its website.