October 19, 2023
The BOSS Network & Sage Releases Groundbreaking Report Addressing Challenges Atlanta-Based Black Women Founders Face
*Originally reported by Blacknews
Nationwide — The BOSS Network — an online community of professional and entrepreneurial women who support each other through conversation, online, and event-based networking — has released a report entitled “Voices of Strength: Pathways to Success for Black Women Founders.”
Released in partnership with Sage – the leader in accounting, financial, HR, and payroll technology for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) – this groundbreaking report identifies the most prominent challenges facing Black women founders in Atlanta, including a lack of access to funding through grants and government resources, mentorship, and the ability to digitally scale their businesses for growth. Findings were from a joint study with insights from 40 Black women entrepreneurs, all founders of small businesses within the metro Atlanta area.
Access to Capital, Digitalization, and Mentorship as Biggest Challenges
Despite Black women being the fastest-growing community of successful entrepreneurs in the US, with a growth rate of over 18% since 2017, only five percent of the surveyed founders have been able to secure funding through business loans or venture capital funds. Additionally, only 20% were familiar with the process to apply for and receive funding through government grants. While access to capital remains a key barrier for growth among this group, there is also a large gap in mentorship and training in the intricacies of social media algorithms to garner a return on investment from social media efforts.
Although the report found that challenges among Black founders heavily impacted success, results also demonstrated the resiliency and enthusiasm among founders. Of those surveyed, 88% were optimistic about the future of their business, driven by confidence and their personal and community passions to improve the lives of others and deliver an impact greater than themselves.
“It’s through important partnerships with companies like Sage that we are able to effectively shine a light on the struggles that Black women founders face in an exponential way,” said Dr. Cameka Smith, founder of The BOSS Network. “We hope this report will inspire businesses and corporations in Atlanta and beyond to take meaningful action in support of Black women business owners to achieve success for the betterment of our economic development.”
To address the challenge of lack of capital and drive immediate change among Black founders in Atlanta, Sage and the BOSS Network launched the “Invest in Progress” program in 2022. This research is essential to extending our work to ensure continued support of Black women founders. It is dedicated to fostering a pipeline of funding, mentorship, and access to Sage technologies to help founders grow and scale their businesses. Sage has committed to providing funds through the grant program to support and drive the resilience and passion within this group of dynamic women.
In addition, Sage and The BOSS Network are announcing a new partnership with Swoop, a prominent global fintech company specializing in funding solutions. This collaborative endeavor, made possible through the Sage Foundation, is designed to further empower this community of entrepreneurs, in direct response to the insights uncovered in the Voices of Strength report. It will encompass personalized financial training programs and enhanced access to capital resources.
Through this strategic alliance, the organizations will offer:
• Up to 150 women entrepreneurs in Atlanta will be provided a 3-year membership to The BOSS Network and 1 year of training access for up to 150 Atlanta women founders (including the commission) giving them access to The BOSS Network, resources, support, and events.
• 7+ grants from the Invest in Progress program to go to founders in Atlanta (valued at up to $70K)
• Custom trainings through BOSS Business University, Sage, and SWOOP for the Atlanta cohort of Invest in Progress recipients in response to the themes identified in the report, including finance training and resources for access to capital.