To cement our commitment to racial equity in Europe, last October we announced the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, a $2 million initiative to provide cash awards up to $100,000 to Black-led startups in Europe. These are non-dilutive awards, meaning companies won’t have to exchange equity for the funding, and are paired with up to $120,000 in Ads Grant and up to $100,000 in Cloud credits per startup. The founders will be introduced to each other and a wider community of experts for leadership, growth, technical support and access to Google for Startups’ body of knowledge, mentors and best practices.
We often hear that lack of diversity in tech is a pipeline problem. This program shows that isn’t the case. We received almost 800 applications for the fund from 18 countries in Europe and the quality we saw was truly exceptional — from tech prodigies, to former executives of the most successful companies in the world, to serial entrepreneurs.
Our team interviewed almost 100 founders for the fund to understand their businesses, their ambitions and their lived experience as leaders, whether they are serial or first time founders. Did they need to work three jobs at a time? How much perseverance did it take to get that degree? Did they have a friend or a cousin to call up to get easy funding? We looked at what opportunities each founder has been given (or not given) and what they did with them. The answers we heard made clear the caliber of these founders.
Today, we’re announcing the 30 startups from the U.K., France, Belgium, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands who have been selected to receive awards from the Black Founders Fund. Their inspiring, fast-growing startups address global challenges like access to healthcare, financial inclusion, energy and education, in the most competitive industries, from hardware design and advertising to data and risk management. And it’s not only racial diversity that they represent: 40% of startups we selected are led by women.
Lasting change only happens when you engage everyone — the corporations, the VCs, the angel investors, the founders themselves — and invite them to support each other. With less than 0.5% of venture capital (VC) funding going to Black-led startups, and only 38 Black founders receiving venture capital funding in the last 10 years, the Black Founders Fund in Europe is a third region, after the U.S. and Brazil, where Google for Startups is helping to level the playing field by backing Black founders who are disproportionately locked out of access to capital.
We are so impressed by the founders’ experiences — the depth of their industry knowledge coupled with their valuable lived experiences of being Black leaders. This makes them uniquely positioned to build successful startups and create important solutions for our community. Backing Black founders not only means creating individual success stories, but also supporting job creation and wealth generation for decades to come.
Meet a few of the founders: