Three institutions — two local and one based in Seattle — have partnered to create a $500,000 seed fund to improve access to capital for minority entrepreneurs in Philadelphia.
Drexel University and the University City Science Center collaborated with the Raynier Institute & Foundation to establish the fund. While the foundation is based in Seattle, it was founded by James Widener Ray, of the Widener family of Philadelphia. It supports projects in animal welfare, arts and culture, education, the environment and health care and human services in both cities.
The new pool of capital, which will be called the Raynier Seed Fund, will go toward candidates from the Science Center’s commercialization programs, Drexel’s Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship and the Drexel Office of Research & Innovation
A recent study on venture capital suggested that there has been progress on addressing the disparities in startup funding. Yet, in the last five years, still less than a quarter of new businesses have been started by minority entrepreneurs, the foundation said.
“We know that entrepreneurs need capital to propel their ideas into reality. Seed funding in the initial stages of a new venture is critical not only to survival but also to the ability of the firm to pivot as needed,” Donna DeCarolis, founding dean of the Close School, said in a statement. “This seed fund, targeted at underrepresented entrepreneurs, will accelerate innovation and job creation among minority entrepreneurs in our region.”
Along with funding, local entrepreneurs will also receive guidance and network connections through the partnership.
“Untapped potential represents significant opportunity,” Tiffany Wilson, president and CEO of the Science Center said. “Support from the Raynier Institute & Foundation will enable the Science Center and Drexel to increase support to minority founders and ensure Philadelphia’s innovation community is more representative of Philadelphia’s demographics.-30-