The Michigan Founders Fund is an organization comprised of several technology and startup industry founders.
33% of the organization’s membership is comprised of underrepresented business founders, defined as those whose access is limited due to their gender, race, or socioeconomic background.
Hence, the Michigan-based nonprofit, created in 2020 with 75 members, convened a town hall event last month to delve further into the difficulties plaguing Black and brown founders. The founders who planned the event intend to host a new event every three months. There is aim to continue connecting founders with resources and letting them know they do not always need to look for investment out of state.
In order for their enterprises to flourish in Michigan, Black and brown founders cited the following factors:
- Increased access to capital. Johnnie Turnage stated that despite the continual discussion over access to finance, one may “forget how great the divide is.” To enter investor-filled rooms, he added, underrepresented entrepreneurs must overcome various obstacles, including a lack of access to networks, a lack of representation, inadequate cash and resources, prejudice, and bias.
- More physical venues to foster relationships. Johnnie Turnage stated that these business support locations, such as Centric Place and the Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance, facilitate access to accountants, legal support, business planning, and insurance.
- Sharing the personal experiences of people who have achieved success might be beneficial to others. These personal narratives, according to Alexa Turnage, encourage individuals to take the next step: “Here’s how we can go forward and collaborate,” she added.
- Linking entrepreneurs to angel networks. There are several networks inside the state that link angel investors with entrepreneurs. However, there are networks that deal exclusively with minority founders.