Join us throughout the upcoming weeks as we feature the stories and work of Builders and Benefactors, a network of private equity investors, venture capitalists, and founders of color who are intentionally investing to close racial wealth and income gaps. Together, we imagine what the capital ecosystem could look like #WealthInColor.
When I answered the call to join a group of practitioners looking to shape the entrepreneurial ecosystem for black founders, I became focused on finding the “right” answers to what we were attempting to solve. What I soon found, however, was much more profound than what any answer could yield. I discovered that, by showing up, we could ignite a moment of audacious collaboration to chart the future we wish to see, on our own terms and for our own people.
The energy in the room was palpable, serving as a gentle reminder of the most valuable thing we often lose sight of: our mere presence.
Beyond the tangible and measurable outputs of our work is the significance of what it means to simply show up for each other—something we too often forget while navigating the challenges of a system that suggests otherwise. At our Builders & Benefactors convening, we caught a glimpse of this notion; in creating the space to be fully present, we acknowledged the rightfulness of our seat at the table. We came, we saw, and we bore witness to the power of collective wisdom in manifesting who we are at our greatest.
Our goal is to connect those on the margin to those in the center, and to show up not only with capital, but with a commitment to a future dictated by those who’ve historically been silenced.
At Impact America Fund, we chose to frame our Builders & Benefactors piece around the story of Wakanda and King T’Challa. It shares with us a central belief that the seeds of a dynamic black future already exist within the minds of those among us—as long as, together, we are willing to step forward and author it. It’s a story that asserts that we, as a community, are more than enough—despite proclamations that others should dictate our path, that genius cannot thrive in our communities, and that the world is best served by erasing and excluding our efforts to contribute to it.
As a black female-owned firm that represents less than 1% of the venture industry, we have experienced the power of presence first-hand. As we’ve matured into a firm that houses multiple funds that are driving capital toward overlooked founders and impactful business models, we’ve also created a path that we hope will allow access for those beyond just us. Our goal is to connect those on the margin to those in the center, and to show up not only with capital, but with a commitment to a future dictated by those who’ve historically been silenced.
Our report on Wakanda’s lessons for off-screen impact provides an investment framework that counters narratives of deficit while supporting efforts to bring agency back to the communities we see as assets. It is our guide for showing up in a way that celebrates the inherent power of our special history, embodied wisdom, and lived experiences—and liberates our desire to continuously create, test, and discover the critical pathways necessary for our shared and prosperous future.