Serial entrepreneur, Kathryn Finney, is on a mission to establish a powerful business-creation platform in support of Black founders and Black-led companies.
According to Crunchbase News, Finney and her Atlanta-based startup Genius Guild have just raised over $5 million total to build upon the company’s approach to create more opportunities for Black entrepreneurs.
This includes providing investment through its Greenhouse Fund to tech-enabled companies, as well as a lab and studio that have tools to help Black founders improve the health of their communities.
Funds for this new project come from a number of investment partners including Pivotal Ventures, The Impact Seat, First Close partners, and Lowenstein Sadler partner Ed Zimmerman as well as individual investors such as Andrew Bosworth (Facebook), a press release shares.
Genius Guild aims to “build and invest in market-based innovations that end racism,” as stated on the company’s website. “Forward-thinking and full of purpose, we invest in startups led by Black founders that scale to the Black community and beyond.”
Crunchbase News reports that the idea behind Finney’s platform dates back to 2012 during her days as founder of the nonprofit organization, digitalundivided — a company that helps women of color fund and run their own businesses.
According to her, this was around the same time that impact investing was proving to be efficient in addressing issues such as climate change. Finney believed this same strategy could be applied to resolve the social issues around supporting Black-owned companies.
“I thought why hasn’t anybody used it to combat racism?” she recalled to Crunchbase News. The pandemic showed her how much platforms like hers were needed to help struggling Black entrepreneurs find access to capital, and that alone inspired her to launch Genius Guild.
“Black business is viable, lucrative and beneficial to all but venture capitalists continue to leave a 14-figure sum of money on the table because of racist systems and practices,” Finney says in a press statement. “Black entrepreneurs need more than just lip service – they need true supporters who will go beyond self-serving mentoring and nominal tokens of support. At Genius Guild, we’re challenging our stakeholders to use their money and, equally as important, their voices to call out prejudice and bias in their investment practices. Our partners are committed to enriching the community with sums that match the value of their ventures.”
In speaking with Crunchbase News, Finney shared minimal details about the new venture fund but claimed that she expects to write checks for 30 to 50 companies over the next three to four years, amounting between $75,000 and $200,000 each.
“We know writing checks will not change the world in itself,” she says. “But we are offering a real solution. I am confident we can do this.”
By the end of 2021, founder Finney hopes to see the Genius Guild Labs house more than 1,000 Black-founded companies and the company as a whole address the $16 trillion loss from the US economy due to anti-Black racism.
For more information about Genius Guild, visit its website.