Posted by: Nick Leiber on November 14, 2011
Last night CNN aired Soledad O’Brien’s “Black in America: The New Promised Land: Silicon Valley,” which follows eight black tech entrepreneurs trying to raise equity capital in Silicon Valley. As it traces their stories, the documentary also interviews industry insiders about the dearth of tech startups led by black entrepreneurs, highlighting a CB Insights study that shows less than 1 percent of all venture capital investment went to digital startups with African-American founders in 2010.
Tomorrow Rutgers University will host a two-day summit that aims to collect ideas on encouraging investment in minority-owned businesses in struggling urban areas. Entrepreneurs, angel investors, and policymakers, including Newark mayor Cory Booker and members of The America21 Project will discuss the documentary. They’ll also listen as a selection of entrepreneurs present their businesses to a panel of venture capitalists and discuss how to develop an angel fund and a national network for minority entrepreneurs in urban areas.
“Urban entrepreneurs, and particularly minority entrepreneurs, find it very difficult to get access to angel capital,” says dt ogilvie (she writes her name lowercase), a professor at Rutgers Business School in Newark and the founding director of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development. “We thought there was a very great need…[for] high growth businesses, whether they are technology-based or not.”
Ogilvie says the focus is on companies with the potential to create well-paying jobs that benefit local communities. “My colleagues and I believe the way to turn around a struggling city is through entrepreneurship and wealth creation. The old model of [helping the poor get] housing and job [training] has not solved the problem.”
The CUEED held another summit on urban entrepreneurship this summer with the White House that ogilvie says yielded results. “We’ve noticed the [president’s] jobs bills are much more open to doing things for entrepreneurs and small businesses—I think as a result of the summit and follow-up initiatives from the summit.”