Black Entrepreneurship Growth Center Awarded $2 million Investment

C. Isaiah Smalls II The Miami Herald

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Center For Black Innovation in Miami just received a whopping 2 million dollar investment. The funding will help the center continue to grow and serve as a research center comminuted to creating equitable pathways for black founders to thrive and build capital.

Miami

The Center for Black Innovation, a Miami-based organization focused on increasing entrepreneurship in the African-American community, received more than $2 million in investment courtesy of the Knight Foundation, Surdna Foundation and Comcast NBCUniversal.

"It's a validation in a lot of ways that what we're doing and what we've done is important," said Felecia Hatcher, the center's executive director and co-founder.

Formerly known as Code Fever, the center rebranded in August to better communicate "the breadth of the work that we've done," Hatcher said.

These investments — $1.5 million from Knight, $350,000 from Surdna and $250,000 from Comcast NBCUniversal — are instrumental in helping them do so.

"The center will also serve as a research center committed to creating equitable pathways for Black founders to thrive and build capital," Hatcher said in a statement, alluding to her organization's acquisition of the think tank Black Tech Mecca.

In addition to conducting research, the center plans to train investors as it creates an entrepreneurial network to facilitate the development process.

"Capital investment is great, but if you don't have the right network to help expand your business, get you to scale and give you the advice to be successful, it's really hard," said Dalila Wilson-Scott, executive vice president and chief diversity officer at Comcast NBCUniversal. Its investment will provide mentorship for young entrepreneurs.

"No startup is worth it's weight without mentorship," she said.

Though Miami doesn't quite boast the same resume as a Silicon Valley, the center intends to boost what experts bill as a growing scene for startups.

One of the keys will be capitalizing on the city's diversity, said Knight's Miami program director Raul Moas.

"All parts of the startup community should look like the city," Moas said. "Building a Miami where someone who's here can choose to stay here and viably build a business" is the foundation's priority.

Both Knight and Surdna's funding will help the center assemble its leadership team as it expands nationally. Hatcher called the ability to hire more people during the COVID-19 pandemic, which studies have shown hit Black-owned businesses the hardest, "a blessing."

"That's the biggest part of where this is going: being able to develop the human capital that can take on this heavy lift of creating the capital pathways and the opportunities," she said.

Hatcher co-founded Code Fever with her husband Derrick Pearson in 2013 as a way to educate the Black community on the opportunities in the field of technology. Its success led to Blacktech Week and the Young Coders Academy.

But she isn't resting on her laurels. "This announcement is huge," she said, "but we still have more money to raise if we're talking about the center being a true center of Black innovation." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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