After George Floyd’s controversial death in 2020, growing VC investments in businesses founded by people of color became a top priority. According to Crunchbase, just 2.4% of VC financing between 2015 and 2020 went to Black or Latinx enterprises. Funding for black entrepreneurs quadrupled to $1.8 billion in 2021. This year, however, saw a sharp decline in investments in minority founders.
Entrepreneur and co-owner of the Brooklyn Nets, Clara Wu Tsai, launched BK-XL, the biggest business accelerator that aims to support 12 startups founded by Black, Indigenous, and other minority founders in 2023 by investing up to $500,000.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Wu Tsai stated that a shortage of finance is a major barrier to wealth growth for BIPOC businesses. She and her husband Joseph Tsai believe investing in BK-XL would be the greatest approach to overcome this challenge and generate wealth for the entrepreneurs and the jobs they create.
Wu Tsai stressed that she aims to highlight the underutilized entrepreneurial potential in Brooklyn to assist the neighborhood get back on its feet. She also thinks that BK-XL will demonstrate to the rest of the nation that investing in Black businesses pays off and is a smart move.
She added that any money made from investments in the BK-XL startups will be put back into Brooklyn-based companies. “The best way to demonstrate our faith in Brooklyn and Black-owned businesses,” she continued, “is to invest in them and demonstrate to the rest of the world that they are wise financial decisions.”
Prior to the release of BK-XL, Tsai’s Social Justice Fund also introduced “EXCELerate” last year, which offered no-interest loans to Black-owned small companies in need of assistance in order to recover from the closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of her strategy to leverage a combination of investments and donations to achieve goals for the neighborhood, she stated that BK-XL will shortly be followed by a philanthropic grant program to assist other businesses in Brooklyn.
All Brooklyn-based, BIPOC-led firms may submit a BK-XL application starting on December 5. But only companies in industries where the Tsais have the expertise, like e-commerce, will be approved.