Google for Startups, the tech giant’s entrepreneur wing, will invest in a host of Black entrepreneurs in Atlanta, as part of the company’s $5 million Black Founders Fund.
Thirty-five of the Fund’s 76 recipients are based in the Georgia city, by far the most in any US metro area. The group will be awarded a total $2.3m of the nationwide investment – a move one entrepreneur described as “game-changing.
“Oftentimes Black founders face a triple whammy of not having a friends and family round (of funding), not having lots of savings and then not experiencing a lot of success attempting to access funding from venture capital,” Carolyn Pitt, founder of TV and film firm Connx, told the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
The funding, which will total around $100,000 per recipient startup, will not give Google a stake in any company. Mentoring and Google services credits will accompany the cash injections.
This June, deep into lockdowns across the US, the National Bureau of Economic Research reported that 41% of Black-owned small businesses would not survive the COVID-19 pandemic – higher than the 35% of small businesses lost nationwide.
It followed news of greater numbers of Black casualties amid the crisis, which has, alongside the #BlackLivesMatter movement exposed yawning racial inequalities in healthcare, policing and other societal areas.
Yet Atlanta—a city of 500,000 people that is majority Black—appears to have performed well. An August survey found that 75% of Black-owned businesses saw an increase in sales since the beginning of summer.
With more money invested into the city’s vibrant tech scene, statistics should continue to improve, and add to a stable of promising companies including Secureworks, IMEDX and Aware Software.
“We saw (the fund) as an opportunity to bring resources and make sure that Black founders in our network were able to sustain through the year and also had access to even more resources and goodness from Google,” said Jewel Burks Solomon, Google for Startups’ US lead.
“I think the world is just starting to take notice that Atlanta is a vibrant and growing tech ecosystem and hub,” added Pitt.