MiiR exists because of an unrelenting entrepreneurial spirit and a passionate community of mentors, advisors, supporters, and dreamers. This network has allowed for access to resources that were critical to the establishment and growth of our business. We recognize that, despite having the same passion and drive, not all entrepreneurs have the same access to the financial or social capital these networks often provide.
“Currently, Black women are starting businesses at 6 times the national average, but are not seeing the same receipts as other founders. There are 3 major areas where women of color are in need of support: access to capital, access to influential networks and the ability to hire employees. The lack of access to capital for women is becoming a more prevalent part of the entrepreneurial conversation however solutions to solve the issue are still evolving.”
– Black Girl Ventures 2018 Social Impact Report
MiiR’s mission is to empower people for a better future, and for over a decade we have supported communities and individuals around the world in building that future for themselves. In the wake of the racial justice movement that swelled over the summer of 2020, we recognized that we needed to play a much more active role in fighting the systemic racism deeply ingrained in the United States. Taking a cue from our own journey as a company, we looked at ways we could support Black entrepreneurs and founders as they seek to grow their businesses and change the world.
We acknowledge that this is only one step in the ongoing journey to eradicate systemic oppression, and we commit to continually evaluating our practices and pushing to be better.
We could not be more proud to announce our newest nonprofit partner Black Girl Ventures (BGV) and Project #71.
Founded in 2016 by Serial Entrepreneur and Computer Scientist Shelly Bell, Black Girl Ventures addresses the unique challenges Black and Brown women face in accessing social and financial capital to grow their businesses.
The BGV mission is to provide Black and Brown woman-identifying founders with access to community, capital, and capacity building in order to meet business milestones that lead to economic advancement through entrepreneurship.
To date, BGV has funded 91 women of color, held over 25 BGV Pitch Programs across 8 cities, and served over 184 participants.
BGV funds and scales tech-enabled, revenue-generating businesses under $1M. They ignite civic engagement and hyperlocal infrastructure at the intersection of business support services, supplier diversity, social and financial capital.
The organization accomplishes this through multiple avenues of support for their participants, but they began by supporting Black and Brown women entrepreneurs through a crowdfunded Pitch Competition program. Modeled after the historic African-American “Rent Party,” the BGV Pitch offers a creative way to raise funds and build a community for founders who identify as women, Black and/or Brown.
During a BGV Pitch, each founder has 3 minutes to pitch and a 2 minute Q&A from the BGV Champions Panel. The audience then votes with their dollars via SheRaise, their proprietary tech platform. The winners are the top 3 founders who receive the most votes, but all participants become part of the BGV Cohort and have the opportunity to gain access to capital, connections, resources and exclusive updates.
This year MiiR has partnered with BGV to provide the capital for the winners of both the Washington D.C. and New York City Pitch Competitions.
Washington D.C. Pitch Competition (September 10, 2020): $20,000 in total prize capital for the top three winners
1st place winner: Ehime Eigbe, Sweetkiwi
2nd place winner: Kendra Woolridge, Janet & Jo. LLC
3rd place winner: Sasha-Loriene McClain, BLACK GIRLS WHO PAINT
Winner: Nicole Aandahl, Healthy Nail Project Co.
Winner: Tanishia Jones, Sweet Teas Skincare For Your 7th Day
Winner: Fallon Keplinger, Rose Glow Tea Room
Winner: Chichi Okunji, Reproductive Justice & M(E)D
Watch the full Pitch Competition here.
New York City Pitch Competition (December 4, 2020): $20,000 in total prize capital for the top three winners
Winners: announced in December
To assess the impact of the capital the Pitch Competition winners receive, Black Girl Ventures conducts video interviews with BGV Founders to assess their successes, challenges, and ways that BGV has helped expound business performance and goals. BGV also interviews these Founders, publishing blogs and write-ups that provide insight into their businesses and unique value propositions.
BGV Founders are also invited to participate in ongoing professional development webinars and events that address everything from best practices in marketing to financial management.
Whenever a BGV Founder makes an impression in mainstream media, BGV also shares the news across all of its social media platforms. We encourage you to follow along on these Founders' journeys and BGV's continued work by following the @BlackGirlVentures Instagram.