No representation, no problem!
After realizing the lack of representation at Cornell University’s top finance clubs, these two junior students decided to create a space of their own, reports Black Enterprise.
Intense research and a mission to help mold the next generation of Black and brown finance leaders at the Ivy League, led students, Cheick Camara and Ermias Tadesse to discover that Black and Hispanic students make up less than five percent of the demographic at the university’s exclusive finance clubs.
While the clubs were highly selective and exclusive, when Camara and Tadesse looked around the lack of inclusivity was shocking as they were the only students of color in their respective clubs. The feelings that followed left Harlem, New York native Camara feeling like an “imposter.”
Tadesse — a native of Alexandria, VA — shared a similar disconnect within the organization. Together, they then created Cornell’s first minority-owned investment fund, BlackGen Capital, in November 2019.
“I was inspired to do this with Cheick because of the experiences that we had in our finance organizations at Cornell,” said Tadesse in an interview with Black Enterprise. ” I was the only person of color in my finance club [which consisted of] about 30 or 40 students.”
The two may have formed the investment fund, but they weren’t the only Black students who wanted to learn more about networking and the finance industry as a whole.
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“We sent out a survey to around 1,500 minority students on campus and we just saw an overwhelming interest for an organization that brings them all together in a space that they can learn about finance and financial literacy,” revealed Tadesse who is currently studying policy analysis and management with a concentration in economics as a human ecology student.
Today, not only have they made history with the university’s first minority-owned fund, but BlackGen Capital gives new members the opportunity to participate in a 10-week training program that focuses on accounting, stock-pitch analysis, personal finance, investing, and financial modeling.
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During the training program, students learn about topics ranging from venture capital to resume building and real estate. Upon completion, they are afforded the opportunity to not only pitch but execute investment ideas in four core industries: energy, healthcare, tech, and consumer.
Managed by students, the fund seeks the assistance of individual supporters, Cornell alumni, and corporate sponsors like Bloomberg, Bank of America, HSBC, and JPMorgan. The funding is then used for investment.
Along with the hands-on experience, BlackGen Capital has helped students to not only secure internships but jobs with some of its corporate partners, shares Camara.
For more on BlackGen Capital, visit their website here.