business

Harlem Capital Partner: 'Deploying Capital' Key to More Diverse Business Leaders

Venture capital firm Harlem Capital just hit a new milestone in its mission to invest in 1,000 diverse founders over the course of 20 years.
Last week, the company announced it had raised $40.3 million to an oversubscribed fund.
"What we're focused on is seed and Series A companies that are run by minority and women founders," managing partner Henri Pierre-Jacques told Cheddar on Monday. Venture partner Brandon Bryant agreed, saying to increase the number of minority- and women-run startups, "you need to start by deploying capital."
Pierre-Jacques and Bryant joined Cheddar the same day PitchBook announced venture capital investment in all-female founding teams has hit a record high of 2.8 percent of capital invested across the U.S. in startups. But that is still a very small sliver of the VC funding that has been distributed.
To remedy the low percentage of investment into female-founded companies Pierre-Jacques said: "you need more diversity-focused funds."
The "industry-agnostic" fund invests between $250,000 and $1 million per organization and so far has invested in nine companies in nine cities. Pierre-Jacques said New York and Los Angeles have been their best cities so far. San Francisco will finally enter Harlem Capital's portfolio next month.
"We just don't see a lot of people of color coming from San Francisco," Pierre-Jacques said.
Bryant said the company's media presence has helped the fund attract more companies than it can fund.
"There's definitely not a pipeline problem," Bryant said, noting 50 percent of "our flow comes from management teams reaching out to us."
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