Black Girl Ventures Founder Turned Tax Refund Into $500,000 Investment from Nike

Shelly Bell founded Black Girl Ventures in 2016 to help more Black and Brown women scale tech-based businesses.

Before this endeavor, Bell made her mark as a successful business owner. She created a successful web development and graphic design business with her tax return and $5,000 from her mother, according to The Philadelphia Citizen.

Many women struggle with attracting capital to fund their businesses. Often, personal savings are the only options for many Black and Brown female owners who don’t have funds from family members to finance their ventures. A report developed by Project Diane shows that black women founders only received .27% of total venture capital between 2018 and 2019.

Black Girl Ventures started with a focus on crowdfunded pitch competitions to address this gap. To date, the organization has funded 76 Black and Brown women entrepreneurs. The team has also hosted over 25 Black Girl Ventures Pitch Programs and served over 170 participants.

“We’re saying hey, we support you, we’re behind you, and if no one else is going to fund you, we will,” she told The Philadelphia Citizen.

Now, Nike is helping the female-led non-profit expand their initiatives. Earlier this year, Nike announced a $500,000 investment to Black Girl Ventures. It’s part of Nike’s plan to provide more Black and Brown entrepreneurs with access to a community, capital, and capacity-building.

“Nike’s funding will help us grow our reach through new chapter development, increase our technology infrastructure to better serve Black and Brown leaders through our proprietary crowdfunding platform and increase our brand visibility through storytelling campaigns curated by Black and Brown women,” says Shelly Bell, founder and CEO of Black Girl Ventures, in a statement. 

Black Girl Ventures Teams Up With Nike

Bell will be hosting a panel during NBA’s All-Star Weekend. The 2021 event will take place live from State Farm Arena in Atlanta on Sunday, March 7th on TNT.

Bell is also adding a bit of Black Girl Ventures magic to the media scene. She will be featured in a Nike commercial with the athletes. She’s also taking over Brooklyn Nets’ star forward Kevin Durant’s Instagram page on Sunday.

The activations will put the spotlight on Black Girl Venture’s work. This is part of Nike’s “Giveback Sunday.” Nike is highlighting organizations that champion underrepresented communities and women. You can also check out to hear more about Black Girl Ventures and Shelly’s story. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the capital funding gap for female entrepreneurs. You can also find out how you can help move the needle.

Meet the Woman Behind Black Girl Ventures

Shelly Bell is a tech entrepreneur, system disruptor, and business strategist based in the Washington, DC Metro area. 

In 2003, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. Bell has a background in performance poetry, K-12 Education, program management, writing, and IP Strategy. She brings all of her education and experiences together to help more women unlock their power.

“The top three challenges of underrepresented founders are lack of access to capital, lack of access to influential networks, and lack of the ability to get hired,” Bell shares with The Philadelphia Citizen. “Even if you get an influx of capital, do you have what I call the ABCs of business—an attorney, a banker, and a CPA—to give you the information you need?”