Black Girl Ventures change agents

Black Girl Ventures founder Shelly Bell is pictured with the 25 change agents who will lead the expansion effort in Philadelphia; Birmingham, Alabama; Durham, North Carolina; Houston, Texas; and Miami, Florida. — Courtesy of Black Girl Ventures

Black Girl Ventures, an organization that creates opportunities for women of color to gain access to capital, is expanding into Philadelphia.

This initiative is the latest in a growing nationwide movement to address the diversity gap in entrepreneurship.

“We are thrilled to announce the launch of our Philadelphia Chapter,” Shelly Bell, founder and CEO of Black Girl Ventures said in a news release.

“Accessing capital remains a significant challenge for minority entrepreneurs in Philadelphia and we are here to change that. Thanks to the efforts of our Venture Board, Black and Brown woman-identifying founders in Philadelphia will have access to the financial resources and networks they need to grow their businesses.”

The chapter will be led by five “change agents”: Marian Dossou, owner of KakeMi Cakes; Robin Gillespie, a fitness professional; Tanya Morris, president and founder of Mom Your Business; Neferteri Strickland, a cybersecurity professional and Tiara Durham, a marketing and business planning consultant. The chapter will offer Black and brown women founders access to coaching, pitching opportunities, funding, feedback and networking.

“We are excited to expand Black Girl Ventures’ critical work and to foster the growth of a more inclusive local economy,” said Durham, who is Black Girls Ventures Philadelphia Board Lead.

“2.5 percent of Philly businesses are Black-owned, despite the population of 44% of Black and Hispanic residents. Our goal is really to change that dynamic by providing an opportunity for Black and Brown women founders to take advantage to gaining access to capital and other resources.”

BGV is no stranger to Philadelphia. The organization has hosted its signature pitch competition, which gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to showcase their ideas, in the city since 2017.

Along with Philadelphia, BGV has launched chapters in Birmingham, Alabama; Durham, North Carolina; Houston, Texas; and Miami, Florida. A 2019 Inclusion Open grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation helped make the expansion possible.

The Philadelphia chapter will host a launch party from 6 to 8 p.m. on Feb. 27 at the University City Science Center, 3675 Market St. To RSVP, visit http://bit.ly/BGVPhillyLaunch.

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