The Builders & Benefactors network (B&B) is a community of Black and brown founders and fund managers working to scale businesses and close racial income and wealth gaps. See more from Builders & Benefactors 

B&B is a community of Black and brown innovators working in the context of high-growth scalable businesses to close racial income and wealth gaps. They use their power and influence to explore ways of rewriting the rules that exclude people of color from accessing the necessary capital to scale their businesses and build wealth. As part of our research around the role of business ownership in providing wealth-building opportunities for Black and brown people, The B&B have helped us shed light on the fact that the barriers in access to capital and investor networks for founders of color are tightly connected to the lack of representation of Black and brown people at capital decision-making level.

For Black and brown founders:

  • Black-owned businesses start with lower levels of financial capital, for which they pay higher prices. Furthermore, in most cases they do not even apply for bank loans out of a belief they will be denied.
  • Less than 77% of Venture Capital is invested in college-educated, white men and that just 1% of venture-backed founders are Black.

For Black and brown fund managers:

  • Less than 3% are Black, and diverse management teams make up only 18% of VC firms
  • Venture capital firms that focus on businesses owned by people of color perform in line with their counterparts.
  • Racially-diverse investors make more investments in minority-led and women-led portfolio companies than non-racially diverse investors.

In the context of our Capital for the New Majority strategy, the B&B is an opportunity to learn from Black and brown fund managers and gain clarity on the necessary supports and investments structures that they need in order to increase investments in founders of color, and ultimately get better results for all people in U.S. cities. This network is the result of our commitment to building a community of practice geared towards disrupting the capital systems and a critical partner in imagining what Living Cities’ investment vehicles could look like.

Building on themes captured during the first two B&B annual convenings in 2018 and 2019, the Radical Collaboration for Black Wealth Creation report was created as a field guide for philanthropic institutions, fund managers focused on race and impact, Black founders, and anyone else seeking ways to reimagine how we address racial income and wealth disparities. Our collaboration has resulted in the B&B Content Series, a compilation of stories, images and conversations with founders, fund managers and investors using their power to make equitable capital decisions.

By creating a safe space for B&B, building transformational relationships with its members, and using our collective power and platforms to uplift their stories, Living Cities has deepened its understanding of the role of philanthropy as a connector and a provider of cover for founders and fund managers of color, and identified new opportunities to use the Blended Catalyst fund to test approaches to closing the racial wealth gap.

Builders & Benefactors in the News

  • Demetric Duckett, Managing Director, Capital for the New Majority at Living Cities, makes a call to action to venture capital investors and funders: to support Black and brown founders you need to become anti-racists.

  • Melissa Bradley, founder of 1863 Ventures, shares her perspectives on the need to invest in Black and brown founders.

  • Monique Woodard, founder of Cake Ventures, highlights the need to ask the question: what is keeping black founders from most VC firms’ pipelines? And what does it take for investors to partner with founders of color?

  • Jewel Burks Salomon, head of google for startups for Google for the United States, highlights the current context as an opportunity to shed light on the compounding impact of racism on Black people and identify ways of disrupting the racial wealth gaps.