Angel Funders Report 2021 - Flipbook - Page 39
INVESTORS OF COLOR
NETWORK: New Models to
Close the Racial Funding Gap
Several years ago, ACA Board member Eli Velasquez was managing an
angel investor network made up of mostly older white men, located in a
town on the border between the US and Mexico. The population of the
community, with almost 1 million people, was 80% Hispanic—but not even
one of the angel group’s investments backed entrepreneurs of color.
On the opposite side of the diversity spectrum, Velasquez also spent time
working in a West Texas community with 80% white residents. He recalls meeting
a young, white male with interest in angel investing who couldn’t connect with
the right people and didn’t feel he had an avenue for making investments.
“At that point, I realized we need to improve access to angel networks
for all demographics, and we need purposeful programs to find investors
of color and connect them with entrepreneurs of color. That’s why
we founded the Investors of Color Network,” says Velasquez.
The Investors of Color Network (ICN) exists to bridge the funding gap
for diverse founders, including members of the Black, Latinx, and Asian
communities. The group invests in the health, wealth, and social mobility of
communities of color by investing directly in companies and as limited partners
in emerging diversity focused funds. Within the ACA, ICN addresses the
need to expand by engaging new, diverse investors and mobilizing capital.
In the wake of racial unrest in the United States, the Investors of Color
Network is gaining more traction, with interest from the community,
individual investors, and investment funds. The group currently has 50
active members and 15 fund managers, with 600 people in their database
who’ve expressed interest in learning more about their programs. Deals
have ranged from seed funding to Series B opportunities, with a total
36 | Portfolio Companies
Together, we’re working to
eliminate the silos in capital
and improve deal flow across
the ecosystem by creating
a trusted community of
accredited investors of color
that are actively syndicating
funding deployed of over $4 million to companies and emerging funds.
The group spends significant time and effort on outreach, hand curating
and vetting prospective investments and members. “Our goal is to enable
more investors of color to participate and give them the ability to write
checks to support our diverse entrepreneurial base,” said Velasquez.
“Together, we’re working to eliminate the silos in capital and improve deal
flow across the ecosystem by creating a trusted community of accredited
investors of color that are actively syndicating and investing.”
The Investors of Color Network also features ACA Chair Marcia Dawood
on its advisory board, reflecting the importance and alignment to the ACA
to the group’s mission to increase the diversity of founders and funders.
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