Wake up daily to our latest coverage of business done better, directly in your inbox.


Get your weekly dose of analysis on rising corporate activism.

Select Newsletter

By signing up you agree to our privacy policy. You can opt out anytime.

Forging a positive future for ethnic diversity in business

EP Journal

by Brian Collett

Black women now comprise the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in the US.

A new study from Digitalundivided, a New York-based company whose aim is a pipeline of black entrepreneurs and investors in technology, reports that they run about 1.5 million businesses, 322% more than in 1997, and generate at least $44bn (£30.8bn, €39.4bn) in revenue annually.

Yet, of the 10,238 businesses receiving venture capital between 2012 and 2014, only 24 were headed by black women.

This is the challenge for Monique Woodard, who has just joined the venture capital consultancy 500 Startups in San Francisco as its first African-American partner. Her purpose is to increase investment in black and Latino entrepreneurs, with a particular concentration on technology.

Her pedigree includes a leading role with the Brand Institute, which specialises in branding services. Woodard spearheaded brand development projects for clients that included Avon, Bayer and Starbucks.

Her technology experience involved working with established and startup companies to define strategy, introduce innovative products and highlight them on web, mobile and social media.

Most recently Woodard was a Mayor’s Innovation Fellow for the San Francisco city government, managing technology products for running civic services and heading partnerships for the mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation.

Her commitment to the African-American community is exemplified by her role as a co-creator of Black Founders, a professional body promoting diversity in the technology industry. Black Founders produces networking and educational events in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.

Woodard, whose new appointment coincides with the Digitalundivided report, Project Diane, on black women and business in the US, said: “We have to diversify who’s going out there and finding companies and who’s writing the cheques.

“That is incredibly important. It’s hard to find black and Latino founders if you don’t have black and Latino investors on your staff.”

More stories from Community Engagement