Dr. Rashae Barnes has recently joined a very exclusive club: a Black woman VC fund founder focused specifically on Black investment. There are fewer than 700 venture capital firms in the U.S. owned and led by Black women. Barnes is aiming to change this.
Her new firm Evals Equity was founded this year after she recognized a huge disparity in capital and resources for Black women-owned businesses, despite the group being the largest growing sector of entrepreneurs in the country.
“Since it’s a fund-to-fund, it doesn’t make sense for me to seek investors because I’m trying to fund other people’s businesses,” Barnes said in an interview with Forbes. “We want to structureEvals Equity as a 501(c)3 so that we can focus on donors and not investors. That way, people are able to donate, then make it a tax write-off. We have a lot of different funds under Evals Equity. We have the Impact Entrepreneurship Fund, designed for young entrepreneurs, we have the Invest Women Fund, which is a fund specifically created for women of color, and then we haveEvals Impact Day, which is a day where we’ll designate to raise capital each year.”
Eval’s Invest Women Fund provides grants from 5K to 50K to Black and minority female business owners. The fund’s site says awardees will also receive help navigating the fundraising environment at large so that they will have a more equitable opportunity at scaling their business, as well as branding, marketing and social media training for their businesses.
“If you improve the rate of Black and minority women within entrepreneurship and the ability for them to scale their businesses, it essentially improves the communities that they live in,” Barnes told Forbes Kenneth J. Williams Jr.. “At Evals Equity, we really want to focus on startup businesses by creating opportunities for those who are underestimated and overlooked but still have the capacity to generate revenue if given the opportunity. Everything comes back down to opportunity. You can’t tell me what someone can’t do if they don’t have the opportunity to do it.”