Diversity Finance Advisory Board established to boost capital to minority-owned startups


| Photo by Christina@wocintechchat on Unsplash

WOODBRIDGE, NJ – A Diversity Finance Advisory Board (DFAB), which will work to increase access to institutional capital for women- and minority-owned startups has been established. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) said the Board will provide knowledge, guidance and insights on ways to best increase capital, access, and investments in New Jersey’s diverse entrepreneurs.

NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan announced the creation of DFAB during a speech at the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey’s Business Leadership Conference in this town.

Although venture capital investments have quadrupled across the U.S. over the past ten years, a survey from the National Venture Capital Associations (NVCA) found, the increases are not true for startups with women or racial minorities as their founders. The State recognizes national studies that correlate with the NVCA study that finds only one percent of venture capital-backed founders are Black and less than two percent are Hispanic.

Sullivan noted that across the nation, women- and minority-owned startups have not benefitted from the increase in venture capital investments that white-owned startups have experienced. “The Diversity Finance Advisory Board aims to rewrite that narrative and ensure New Jersey-based diverse entrepreneurs have equitable access to institutional capital,” he said. “The creation of this advisory board, comprised of investment, entrepreneurship, and subject-matter experts with a commitment to diversity and inclusion, is another tangible step toward a stronger, fairer, and more diverse New Jersey economy.”

“Our state has put forth a strategy that has the potential to have a transformational impact on the competitiveness of New Jersey,” said John E. Harmon, Sr., IOM, Founder, President & CEO, African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey. “Moreover, today’s announcement could lead to a more level playing for woman and minority owned businesses whose vision and proposed plans to establish a successful enterprise can now be realized. This is a positive step towards a more equitable future for New Jersey.”

DFAB, in collaboration with NJEDA staff, will work to develop and implement a holistic product set that will help make New Jersey a national leader in diversity finance. NJEDA said Board members will also work to develop a private-sector engagement framework to identify and engage the state’s private capital sources. Additionally, Board members will help establish partnerships to support the NJEDA’s mission to grow high-quality jobs, catalyze investment, and foster inclusive community development.

Kathleen Coviello, NJEDA’s Chief Economic Transformation Officer, remarked the DFAB will help uplift minority-owned startups, while bolstering and transforming New Jersey’s innovation economy. “By creating additional pathways for entrepreneurs to succeed, the Board will ultimately help spur innovation, create jobs, and grow the statewide economy. The NJEDA is appreciative of this inaugural board for their willingness to support the Authority and state in this critical mission,” she said.

NJEDA states members must have a strong New Jersey nexus to serve on the Board and demonstrate institutional development, investment, or policy experiences. Additionally, members must commit to and have experience developing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) policies. NJEDA has named the inaugural 2023-2024 Board members and will continue to add and supplement the initial advisory Board members.

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