Usually when we talk about a year that’s about to end, we say, “Next year is sure to be better.” But the more I think about it, 2019 has been pretty exciting in its own right. On a personal note, my company completed our Series A raise this year. That just about killed me, so if anyone needs help with their raise, give me a shout.
But for anyone in small business, there was lots about which to get excited on another front. It was a year all about diversity making major wins and about leaders sharing its importance. These were a few achievements in diversity that I saw happen this year, which I hope will continue as trends in 2020.
Women Launching Financial Platforms
It’s great news that venture capital investments in women have hit an all-time high. According to PitchBook, all-female founding teams hit $3.3 billion in investments in 2019. That’s up from $3 billion in 2018, a major spike from 2017’s $2.1 billion. The bad news? That’s still only 2.8 percent of all capital invested, according to the same Pitchbook stats.
I think it’s obvious how we move the needle: more female investors. Luckily, that’s exactly what’s happening. “Inspired” is definitely the best word I can think of to describe Alexis von Tobel, who sold LearnVest.com in 2015 and started Inspired Capital with former U.S. secretary of commerce Penny Pritzker this year.
Then there’s Serena Williams and her fund, Serena Ventures, which focuses exclusively on solving everyday problems for underrepresented groups, especially women and people of color. Williams announced the firm in April, but has already quietly invested in more than 30 companies. (Full disclosure, she invested in my company, Alice.)
And women making moves in finance are not all VCs. One of my favorite women in the world of money is Sallie Krawcheck. The former president of the Global Wealth & Investment Management division of Bank of America is helping to break down barriers with Ellevest, a digital financial advisor for women. This year, she made news by introducing Intentional Impact Portfolios, a type of portfolio that steers investors toward companies that help women and away from ones that could do them damage.
The Rise of the Latino Business Owners
Additionally, The Latino Donor Collaborative reported some absolutely stunning statistics this year in its biennial Latino GDP Report. If the Latino GDP were a country, it would be the eighth largest in the world and the third fastest-growing. By 2020, it will likely account for nearly 25 percent of the United States’ GDP. Basically, we have a lot for which to thank the Latino entrepreneur community.
But I already knew that. My co-founder, Carolyn Rodz is Latina, and one of the people in business I respect most. Her path has been paved by other Latina leaders like Nina Vaca, founder and CEO of Pinnacle Group. Vaca’s $1-billion-grossing company is just the beginning of her influence. This year, she was elected to be a member of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a powerful foreign policy think tank that will allow her to represent Hispanic voices around the world.
And according to Biz2Credit’s annual ranking, Miami was the top city for small business growth in 2019. The list is based on factors like annual revenues and credit scores of more than 30,000 companies that applied for loans on the platform, so perhaps it should be taken with a grain of salt, but it likely does reflect a wider trend. How did Miami earn the title? One again, thank Latinos. Because of its proximity to and great relationship with Latin America, Miami is a hub for trade, tourism, and Spanish-language media.
My takeaway from all of this is that when when you do business, it’s to your advantage to work with diverse colleagues, whether it’s seeking funding, investing, or simply spending using a product created by someone who comes from a different background or place from you. They’re bound to have ideas you never thought of.
Looking forward to 2020, I’m expecting more diversity achievements to be made. After all, I believe good values, like supporting underrepresented founders, are simply good for business.
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