Money

Entrepreneurs Launch New 100% Black-Owned Equity Crowdfunding Platform

By Tanya Isley 
Last updated on September 9th, 2020 03:45 pm

The 10K Project is an economic movement to fund black business and bridge the wealth gap.

A group of entrepreneurs has launched a 100 percent black-owned equity crowdfunding platform, The 10K Project, to fund black businesses and bridge the black wealth gap.

The 10K Project allows micro investors to join for $100 and have the opportunity to invest in black-owned small business. If 10,000 people to invest as little as $100, then there would be $1 million to support these businesses. In addition to accessing opportunities to invest, members will have access to financial literacy webinars, wealth building educational resources, community forums and the ability to network and learn from each other.

Cheree Warrick, a former business plan writer and a co-founder and the Project’s CEO, says that the idea for the initiative developed three years ago when she noticed that many of her Black clients had great business ideas but lacked the networks and collateral to secure funding for their businesses. Noting the success of WeBuyBlack, an online marketplace for Black-owned business to sell their products, Warrick believed that concept could work with funding Black businesses, as well. 

Cheree Warwick, co-founder and CEO of The 10K Project

“I started asking, ‘If people bought Black, maybe they would invest Black too.’ If 10,000 of us got together and we put in $100 each, that’s a million dollars. We could start funding our own businesses. We can process from our own innovation,” she says.

Warrick collaborated with co-founders Tawana Rivers, Talisha Shine, Eric Spence, and Dr. Kecia Waddell to recruit both entrepreneurs and potential investors for focus groups to gauge interest in the endeavor. “Everyone we spoke with said, ‘Yes, we’re in. Let’s do this,” she adds.

In May, Warrick and her co-founders considered abandoning the project in the wake of the social justice protests throughout the country following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. However, with the nation gripped by unrest and focused on the racial disparities Black people face, she knew it was the perfect opportunity to launch.

“I said. ‘No, let’s move forward.’ And it’s been one of the best decisions that we could have made.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Business Survey, Blacks owned 124,004 firms in 2017 with 32.0 percent (39,714) of these firms in the healthcare and social services industry. Additionally, a Groupon and National Black Chamber of Commerce survey reports that 80 percent of black business owners say they encounter greater challenges starting their business because of their race; 76 percent say COVID-19 has negatively impacted their business and 74 percent has fewer chances to create a “successful business and less time to make it successful due to a lack of capital investment and resources.”

Since its launch, the Project has generated considerable interest, attracting more than 1,100 members or “everyday VCs” who are looking to invest in Black-owned, scalable businesses, and inquiries from accelerators and incubators who want to have their Black entrepreneurs considered for the platform. Its Building Black Wealth Podcast has featured interviews with A’Leilia Bundles, the great-great-great granddaughter of the legendary female entrepreneurs, Madame C.J. Walker; George Fraser, the Cleveland based author, entrepreneur, speaker and founder of the 15-year-old PowerNetworking Conference; and Lamar Wilson the Founder of Sunjoined, a company that was created to provide an all-natural CBD from a network of connected growers.

Warrick says The 10K Project is responding to a growing need to support black entrepreneurs, especially during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has created such economic uncertainty. She and her co-founders believe that the project has a chance to create a new generation of black investors.