A collective of nine women — five who live in metro Detroit and four in Charlotte, North Carolina — are pooling their money and business expertise to help local and minority-owned small businesses grow.
The women who call themselves the Black Gems Investment Group LLC, aren’t investment experts, rather they’re a mix of business owners and corporate professionals with backgrounds in financial services, health care, higher education, human resources, and marketing.
Fueled by data showing the funding disparities faced by women and minority-owned businesses, the group banned together as new investors to make an impact.
Through its recently launched Gems & Jewels Pitch Competition, the group is looking to make an investment of up to $10,000 in a small, minority-owned business.
“Several of us are entrepreneurs, and understand firsthand the struggle that lack of access to funding presents,” said LaToya Butler, a Black Gems member, and human resources professional. “We’re doing our part to fill that gap for people who look like us.”
According to the Federal Reserve, Black-owned businesses, are less likely to be approved for bank loans, with an approval rate of 46.5 percent compared to 75.3 percent for white-owned businesses. Black women-owned businesses received just 0.27% of venture capital investments between 2018 and 2019.
“Black-owned businesses are closing twice as fast as white-owned businesses due to lack of funding and strategic support,” said RoNeisha Mullen, a Black Gems member, and marketing communications professional. “We know that supporting and investing in black and minority-owned businesses is a way to create more opportunities for generational wealth and meaningful savings for black communities. It’s a way to close the racial wealth gap over time.”
The Black Gems were founded in 2020 under the tutelage of Charlotte-based angel investor Shante Williams. Williams, co-founder, and CEO of Black Pearl Global Investments is focused on getting more “check-writers of color” at various investment levels.
The Gems & Jewels Pitch Competition is open to businesses:
- Based in the United States, with preference given to those located in the metro areas of Charlotte, North Carolina, or Detroit, Michigan
- Majority-owned (at least 51%) by a Black woman
- Profit generating and can provide tax returns for the previous two years
- Following @BlackGemsInvestmentGroup on Instagram
The winning business will meet with the investment group to agree on terms. Beyond their financial resources, the Gems plan to share their expertise as part of a board of advisors.
The application deadline is May 3. Click here for the submission deadline and more details.