If we want technology to work for everyone, it needs to be built by everyone. Today, with less than 0.5 percent of venture capital (VC) funding going to Black-led startups, and Black people making up less than 3 percent of the VC community, Black founders in Europe disproportionately lack access to the networks and capital needed to grow their businesses.
Following Google’s commitment earlier this year to building a more equitable future for everyone, today we’re creating a $2 million Black Founders Fund, which will provide up to $100,000 in equity-free cash awards to selected European startups, paired with up to $220,000 per startup in Google Ad Grants and Cloud credits and support from an experienced Startup Partner Manager.
Google for Startups is also sponsoring The Black Report by 10x10 to begin to address the lack of data and empathy for the challenges Black founders face on their entrepreneurial journeys. The report looks at a sample of London-based early-stage Black founders to gain a better understanding of their companies, backgrounds and the challenges they face in the UK and European ecosystem.
Finally, we awarded Google.org grants to organizations across Europe — including OneTech and Colorintech — supporting diverse entrepreneurs and working to fix the systemic challenges that lead to racial inequity.
We sat down with Rachael Palmer, Head of VC and Startup Partnerships, EMEA, and Marta Krupinska, Head of Google for Startups UK, to learn more about the initiatives.
Why do we need a more inclusive startup ecosystem?
Rachael: Racial disparity has an adverse effect on everyone and can no longer be ignored. Its damaging effects continue to be reflected in such issues as housing disparities and physical and mental health outcomes, with limited government resources provided to address the root causes.
Marta: We have a chance to help build a more equitable future, where successful entrepreneurs come from all backgrounds, and their communities can benefit from the long-term job creation and generational wealth that they bring.
We have a chance to help build a more equitable future, where successful entrepreneurs come from all backgrounds
Tell us more about the Black founders currently in the Google for Startups network, your goals for supporting them and what impresses you most about them.
Marta: We want to challenge the false perception that there aren’t many exceptional Black-led startups. For our Black Founders Immersion program alone, we had 155 high quality applications from across Europe and selected 12 brilliant businesses, led by entrepreneurs such as Elizabeth Nyeko (founder of Modularity Grid, technology that will power off-grid rural communities as well as an all-electric spacecraft), Shirley Billot (founder of Kadalys, turning banana waste into organic beauty products), Christian Facey and Wilfrid Obeng (co-founders of Audiomob, non-invasive audio advertising for gaming) and Ivan Beckley (co-founder of Suvera, platform for virtual management of chronic diseases).
Rachael: What is so exciting about the Black founders is the caliber of talent we have been able to attract which is a further indicator of the amount of untapped talent out there. There are medical doctors, lawyers, PhDs and other seasoned professionals in multidisciplinary industries that now recognize the opportunity to use their experience and backgrounds to make fundamental change within society.
What is your hope for the future?
Rachael: Our hope is that the entire startup ecosystem will come together and commit to change. Doing so will enable us to support Black founders in a comprehensive way, champion and support Black angel investors, and see more Black General Partners at the most successful VC firms. There’s a long way to go, but I am proud that Google is committed for the long term.
Marta: If we want to solve the inequities we see around us, we all need to do the work and understand our role in the system, empathize with those who are marginalized, and take action to help. Google has the resources to co-create viable, scalable solutions with those most impacted, and we have made the commitment to play our part and continue to learn.
Interested in our wider offerings for global founders? Explore other Google for Startups places and programs for founders of all backgrounds at startup.google.com.