Black women have always had to be inventive when it comes to breaking down barriers and overcoming obstacles. And through all the challenges and trials, Black women still harness their excellence and make it look easy.
This is especially true when it comes to entrepreneurship. Businesses helmed by women of color are growing at six times the rate of any other businesses and generating over $422.5B annually. Yes, the #BlackGirlMagic is real, but it’s because Black women have been putting in the work for generations.
Unfortunately, the returns aren’t matching the investment. The income disparities faced by businesses fronted by Black women still exist, largely because these businesses are characteristically underfunded and consistently met with financial barriers that keep them out of spaces where the real money resides.
Nike and Black Girl Ventures want to change that. As part of NIKE, Inc.’s $140 million commitment to supporting organizations focused on addressing racial inequality for Black Americans through economic empowerment, education and social justice, Nike has invested $500,000 in Black Girl Ventures to provide Black and Brown woman-identifying founders with access to community, capital and capacity-building to support entrepreneurship.
Visionary CEO Shelly Bell founded Black Girl Ventures in 2016, hoping to empower women of color to carve their own path and stay in the game. The organization holds pitch competitions that allow Black female-led businesses to take center stage and pitch their ideas to judges and investors. The winners take home a cash award to fund their business and create a solid network of industry mentors and resources in the process.
This competition is different from the ones in years past. Nike is reframing the crowdfunded investment event as a playoff-style tournament. With inspo from its We Play Real campaign — and the work Nike is doing internally to build a diverse, inclusive team and culture that reflects the diversity of the athletes they honor, the people who love their products and the communities they serve — Nike is shifting the landscape around entrepreneurship to re-envision female business owners to elite athletes. The connection highlights all the ways women in business go the distance and put in work to make their dreams come true.
The event kicks off with the first of the series on April 29.
The tournament-style competition will see the eight contestants compete through three rounds, facing judges and elimination with only one walking away with the top prize.
The players (entrepreneurs) will receive coaching and move through the rounds by making their pitch to the champions (judges) and discussing how they plan to grow their company and what the impact could be.
In the third and final round, the top two players will go head to head, making their final pitch to the last round of champions: you, the viewer. In this last round, viewers are in the judge’s seat and can ultimately decide who walks away with the bag. Players will showcase their pitch video on Raisify.co and viewers have the chance to vote with their dollars on the strongest pitch.
Winners will receive cash prizes.
First Place = $30K capital and $30K in brand guidelines and design support
Second Place = $10K
Third place = $5K
And while there can only be one winner, every participant will have the opportunity to network, get resources and create valuable connections that will give them a boost toward making an impact and doing what they love.
Want to get in on the game?
Public voting will open on April 30 and close on May 7 at 11:59 p.m. EST, so make sure to lock in your spot and tune in to be part of putting that capital right into the hands of Black entrepreneurs — where it belongs.
This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Nike.