(Photo by James Cullum)
Black Girl Ventures (BGV), a D.C.-based organization that creates opportunities for women entrepreneurs of color to access capital, is expanding its reach by opening five new chapters in cities across the country, including Philadelphia.
Its presence in the City of Brotherly (or, in this case, Sisterly) Love isn’t new — the organization has hosted pitch competitions here since 2017. But unlike other pitch competitions, the audience ultimately decides the winner, based on donations from the crowd.
The launch of chapters in new cities comes in part by the Inclusion Open grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, BGV announced this week. And when it came to considering where those chapters should be, Philly was the top of founder Shelly Bell’s list, she said.
“The women there are very active, interested and ready,” Bell told Technicial.ly. “It’s a hidden gem. A lot of people should be looking more at Philly.”
Along with Philadelphia, the organization will be opening chapters in Birmingham, Alabama; Durham, North Carolina; Houston and Miami. In addition to an annual pitch competition, the chapters will be required to host a quarterly activity of their choosing.
Each chapter will have five leaders and a group of advisors to run programing. Philly has three of its leaders locked down, Bell said, but is still on the lookout for folks to get involved. (Those interested can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
“You don’t necessarily have to be an entrepreneur yourself, but you’ve got to be entrepreneurial-minded,” Bell said.
The 25 women who will lead these new chapters will also be part of an “nontraditional” accelerator, working with Bell on learning how to vet a company, how to invest, how to use tools to learn pitch decks, how to build a community and how build their own businesses.
Bell isn’t sure how large the chapters will be, but intends to grow as the communities see fit.
“This will really be a learning opportunity for us,” she said. “We’ll see, ‘What do women need? What are we seeing on the ground?’ We want them to be able to own the chapter and the culture of community.”
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