A New York City-based venture capital firm is on a mission to level the playing field for underrepresented entrepreneurs when it comes to securing funding for their businesses. According to Tech Crunch, Harlem Capital has closed a $40 million fund designed to support women and diverse founders.
Launched in 2015 the collective—which includes Henri Pierre-Jacques, Jarrid Tingle, Brandon Bryant, John Henry, and Gabby Cazeau—set out on a mission to invest in 1,000 founders over a span of two decades. Initially, the team aimed to garner $25 million for the debut fund but ended up significantly surpassing its target after fundraising for over a year. The fund has 55 limited partners including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the Dorm Room Fund, Consumer Technology Association, State of Michigan Retirement Systems, Vanderbilt University, and TPG. Half of Harlem Capital’s individual limited partners are people of color or women.
Among the companies that have received investments through Fund I are the feminine hygiene products company Aunt Flow, a gig economy-focused app dubbed Jobble and a pet wellness company called Wagmo. Harlem Capital plans on using the fund to invest in 30 companies.
“This closing is a huge accomplishment for us, but also just the beginning of a long mission to change the face of entrepreneurship. The fundraising process was truly humbling and enabled us access to so many incredible people. Thank you to all that made this first step possible,” said managing partner Henri Pierre-Jacques in a statement. Jarrid Tingle, who also serves as a managing partner for Harlem Capital, added that the firm is now “well-positioned to back women and minority entrepreneurs with meaningful investments.”
Venture capital firms focused on diverse founders are needed. According to Forbes, less than one percent of venture capital-backed founders are Black. In 2018 the median amount of venture capital money raised by Black women founders was $0.