Inclusion Through Fund Distribution: A Look at Impact via Micro-VCs
As a Black man with a multi-racial background, this past year has been both tremendously challenging but also somewhat strangely uplifting. Despite the turmoil and pile-up of unfortunate news, I found solace knowing that at least within the communities I operated in, change and activism was at the forefront of discussions.
One particular area centered on the absolute lack and need for funding availability for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual+ (LGBTQIA+), and non-male founders within the startup ecosystem. As a new student within the Goizueta Business School ecosystem, I have been learning about how university funds can impact entrepreneurs. I attended a 4-part seminar on the evolving impact investing scene, sparking a discussion within my own head on where we were and how micro-Venture Capitalists (mVCs), both private and university driven, are leading the charge in creating a more equitable industry.
The role that micro-VCs – very small funds (<$5M) – play in the entrepreneurial ecosystem has been the real backbone of enabling this shift. Even if well intentioned, much larger funds typically had to operate on more constrained factors to return the vast size of their funds and existed within silos that neglected women and founders of color. As it’s often said, venture capital is a numbers game, and having more funds naturally leads to more funding opportunities, more discussions. and an overall expanding ecosystem.
Part of where this is also occurring today is on university campuses around the country, with Goizueta Business School being no exception through its Net Impact Investing Clubs spearheading various funding instruments. Universities have traditionally been part of the industry via endowments investing into larger funds or through providing a stripped-down version of incubators for innovation coming out of the schools. Today, more and more universities are doubling down on programs like incubators and more importantly, smaller, student-led micro-funds. These funds operate a lot like traditional funds but can be used to support early-stage entrepreneurs within or outside of the university, however, one factor contributing to expanded impact lies in who the check writers are this time around: Generation Z and Transitioning Millennials are aware of the need to shape a better tomorrow.
Smart investment funds should step up to the opportunity at hand, investing in a greater diversified pool of talent within regions that have outperformed hubs like the Bay and New York City. Atlanta, a historically Black city, is seeing tremendous amounts of dollars pouring into the city. Universities like Emory and Georgia Tech are primed to deliver the next wave of socially conscious leaders to tap into this opportunity by not only preparing them through micro-fund opportunities and creating impact today.