Don’t sleep on this Ben Franklin/Village Capital program for underrepresented founders

Village Capital Pathways wants to help African American, Latinx and/or female founders secure capital. Apply by Dec. 22.

The portfolio wall inside the Navy Yard offices of Ben Franklin Technology Partners.

(Photo by Juliana Reyes)

At October’s PSL Diversity Dinner, IOPipe founder Erica Windisch delivered a bone-chilling anecdote: a Philly investor group she would not name ghosted on her pitch after an adviser at the firm outed her gender identity as a trans woman.

The story illustrates a reality well known to entrepreneurs: venture capital has a diversity problem. In the spirit of breaking the cycle that gets only a fringe amount of diverse entrepreneurs funded, D.C.-based Village Capital is partnering with Ben Franklin Technology Partners and UBS to deploy its Pathways program in Philly.

The program, aimed at “African American, Latinx and/or female founders,” seeks to provide a slate of diverse founder with hands-on training, mentorship and connections to local capital.

As part of the deal, startups will also get receive:

  • Up to $5,000 in Amazon Web Services credits.
  • A shot at a $10,000 interest-free Kiva Zip Loan.
  • Access to marketing and sales software Hubspot for 12 months.
  • Up to $2,000 in grant funding, subject to hitting certain milestones.
  • Connections and advice from UBS execs.

Companies must have a minimum viable product and be “pre-seed or seed stage ventures with less than $500,000 in revenue to date or in raised funding.”

Applications are due Dec. 22, and you can start here.

“We want to help position companies to obtain the capital they need most, while prioritizing those who represent Philadelphia’s diversity,” said Margaret Berger Bradley, Director of Investment Partnerships at Ben Franklin. “Being an ecosystem ally, acting as the main point of contact for each company and facilitating tailored engagements, will help us accelerate connections to angel investors and local entrepreneur support for the selected ventures.”


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