Each February, we embrace the occasion to reflect on the challenges and triumphs of the Black community throughout history. At Endeavor, our mission prompts us to delve into the essence of forging something new and the driving forces behind such journeys. For many African Americans, entrepreneurship isn’t a choice but a necessity—a response to systemic inequity limiting other economic opportunities. Visionaries like Madam C.J. Walker, Robert and Sheila Johnson, and Robert F. Smith have crafted legacies from scratch, weaving Black ingenuity into U.S. history. Yet amidst remarkable contributions, Black entrepreneurs grapple with barriers hindering scalable success, and the impact of these barriers runs deep.
Business ownership plays a pivotal role in bridging the persistent racial wealth gap, offering a pathway towards economic equity and independence. Entrepreneurship is a potent tool for change, empowering individuals to break free from the constraints of systems designed to curb their success. Studies have demonstrated the correlation between wealth and entrepreneurship, yet only 2% of U.S. businesses with employees are Black-owned.1 Further research demonstrates that it is not Black poverty, but a lack of Black affluence that fuels most of the racial wealth gap.2 So fostering high growth, scale up entrepreneurship in the Black community holds massive potential for closing the gap.
Black entrepreneurship means a more diverse array of leaders solving societal problems and cultivating the next generation of talent. Supporting emerging Black entrepreneurs means investing in Black advocates, sponsors, and role models whose success generates more equitable workplaces and business communities. Endeavor Insight‘s extensive Multiplier Effect research emphasizes that while investments and exits generate necessary capital for future ventures, employment and mentorship are equally vital for creating connectivity and powering an ecosystem. Black leadership isn’t just crucial for emerging Black talent; it’s an essential element in building a more equitable community of business leaders who defy a monoculture and represent the population at large.
As a global organization operating in 42+ worldwide markets, diversity is ingrained in Endeavor’s DNA. Our unique perspective has given us insights into how uneven playing fields are reflected in entrepreneurial success, and in our over 10 years in U.S. markets, we’ve witnessed first-hand the hurdles faced by Black founders. We haven’t always had the necessary context or appropriate tools to reach these founders and be a part of the community supporting them. Endeavor has traditionally worked with entrepreneurs operating in our distinct local markets, who we consider underserved by geography. However, the statistics tell us that no matter where they are, Black founders are also underserved by identity, raising only 0.48% of venture capital dollars just last year3. Recognizing this, we have adapted our model to select and service Black founders anywhere in the US, even in cities where we don’t have affiliate offices. It is our hope that high impact Black founders in traditional startup hubs will see the value of our network and resources as they seek to advance their businesses to the next level.
Any sincere attempt to advance the cause of Black entrepreneurship needs to be a part of the conversation at the earliest stages. Endeavor specializes in servicing entrepreneurs established in their journey, as they hit their inflection point and prepare to scale rapidly, and our selection criteria remain the same across our worldwide markets. Still, we recognize that if we are genuine in our desire to work with Black founders, we must activate our local network of mentors, founders, and ecosystem builders to contribute to their earlier success. Our goal is to plant the seeds now to enrich the national entrepreneurial ecosystem, enabling Black founders to create from abundance, fostering a Multiplier Effect of wealth, employment, and knowledge within the community.
As efforts towards a more diverse, inclusive and equitable innovation ecosystem come under attack, we stand firm in our support. Should our approach resonate with you, we welcome collaborators and contributors to reach out and be a part of our initiatives. Black entrepreneurs, we see you, we salute you, and we look forward to connecting with you along your journeys.
Adanma Raymond, Head of Network, U.S. at Endeavor