Starting new businesses is tough, especially for minority entrepreneurs. According to a study released by the Minority Business Development Agency, minority-owned firms are less likely to receive loans than non-minority-owned firms. So Rutgers University recently sought out solutions to this dilemma. The university just wrapped a two-day summit that was aimed at gathering ideas on encouraging investment in minority-owned businesses in struggling urban areas.
“The summit, entitled ‘A Gathering of Angels: The Role of High Growth Entrepreneurship and Angel Capital in Building 21st Century Urban Innovation Ecosystems’ was established as an inaugural event to bring together high growth/tech-entrepreneurs of color, angel and venture capital investors to frame the problems and challenges of connecting urban centers and communities that are disconnected from the wealth generating engine of the 21st century innovation economy,” explains a university spokesperson. “A major goal of the summit was to frame the problem that the Black community faces with regards to wealth creation through high growth/tech-entrepreneurship and risk capital investment. The America21 Project and The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship & Economic Development (CUEED) at The Rutgers School of Business partnered and were the primary sponsors for the summit.”
The summit attracted entrepreneurs, angel investors, and policy makers, including Newark mayor Cory Booker. “The summit was well attended by tech-entrepreneurs, investors and community stakeholders of color representing urban communities all over the country. The response was overwhelmingly positive as most attendees expressed great appreciation for the quality of the program and discussions,” says the CUEED spokesperson. “There was also great appreciation for the pitch sessions that were held during the first day of the summit as it was the first time ever that African-American startup entrepreneurs were able to pitch their ventures to African-American angel and institutional investors. Nearly all of the summit participants and attendees have indicated their enthusiasm for similar events to be held in different locations around the country, and for this effort to connect African-American tech-entrepreneurs with capital to continue.”
According to the spokesperson, the summit had several goals. “The primary goal of the summit was to establish a vibrant and productive dialogue within the African-American community around the need to address wealth creation by connecting the community to the 21st century innovation ecosystem across America. The approach is through a new strategy that links innovation with high growth entrepreneurship and risk capital access and investment,” the spokesperson points out. “Secondly, the summit also sought to establish a community among African-American high growth/tech-entrepreneurs with the objective of building and sustaining such community post-summit both on- and offline. In addition, the summit sought to build support for establishing a national urban innovation fund that would provide much needed seed investment capital for startup entrepreneurs of color. Finally, another major goal of the summit was to launch a national network for Black angels that would foster capital investment in startups and early stage ventures across the nation building wealth within the community.”