Press Details

First Cohort of Silicon Valley Accelerator for Black Owned Businesses Announced
Wednesday, September 1, 2021

SANTA CLARA, CALIF. (PRWEB) SEPTEMBER 01, 2021 -- Major Silicon Valley stakeholders, spearheaded by the African Diaspora Network (ADN), are launching the Accelerating Black Leadership and Entrepreneurship (ABLE) program to accelerate the development of Black entrepreneurs and Black-owned businesses in the U.S.

“Black startups receive only 1% of VC funding. What started out as an idea to change that math has come to life as we welcome 16 highly qualified participants from across the United States to our inaugural ABLE cohort,” said Almaz Negash, Founder and Executive Director of ADN. “We are proud to bring together a diverse ecosystem of corporations, educational institutions, philanthropic organizations, and cross-sector collaborators as partners, funders, and mentors. Working with this diverse ecosystem, we bridge vision and action.”

ABLE builds off the success of the African Diaspora Network’s Builders of Africa’s Future Program, and addresses systemic barriers faced by Black entrepreneurs, including the absence of ongoing technical and mentorship support and access to capital. ABLE aims to bridge these gaps by expanding economic pathways and advancing entrepreneurial efforts and innovations of Black entrepreneurs in the U.S.

ADN is the lead organization overseeing development and implementation of ABLE, in partnership with Silicon Valley Executive Center at the Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University as academic partner; Bill.com as lead funder; Silicon Valley Community Foundation as seed funder; and CA Black Freedom Fund and County of Santa Clara as funding partners.

"Congratulations to the entrepreneurs selected as winners for the inaugural Accelerating Black Leadership and Entrepreneurship program," said René Lacerte, Bill.com CEO and Founder. "Your innovation, dedication and passion reflect the heart of entrepreneurs everywhere, and is exactly why we at Bill.com are excited to support ADN in its mission to empower the African American business community."

"The Leavey School of Business and our Silicon Valley Executive Center are proud to partner with the African Diaspora Network," said Ed Grier, Dean of the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University. "We look forward to launching this innovative program focused on racial equity in American entrepreneurship."

The ABLE program will provide online and in-person training and mentorship to the inaugural cohort of 16 Black entrepreneurs representing diverse sectors including education, healthcare, finance, renewable energy, and connectivity, all of which address essential needs of the Black community while spurring sustainable growth.

The 16 entrepreneurs who make up the first ABLE cohort are: Michael Akindele, Founder of Surplus from Washington, D.C.; Melanie Akwule, Founder & CEO of MINWO from Woodbridge, VA; Quilen Blackwell, President of Southside Blooms from Chicago, IL; William Bill Coe, Director & CEO of Green Acres Urban Farm and Research Project from Kansas City, MO; Laura Crandon, Founder and President of Touch4Life, Inc. from Clarksville, MD; VanNessa Duckett, Founder of Polite Piggy’s Day Camp, Inc. from Washington, D.C.; Kristal Hansley, CEO of WeSolar from Baltimore, MD; Tonya Hicks, Founder & President of Women Do Everything LLC from Atlanta, GA; Dr. Christophe E. Jackson, CEO of Gideon MedTech from Atlanta, GA, Birmingham, AL, and New Orleans, LA; NL. Shasha Jumbe, CEO & Co-Founder of Level 42 AI, Inc. from Mountain View, CA; Dr. Nehemiah Mabry, Founder and CEO of STEMedia from Raleigh, NC; Akissi Stokes, CEO & Co-Founder of WUNDERgrubs, LLC from Atlanta, GA; Mike Tadesse, Founder of HappyPlate from Washington, D.C.; Jay Veal, M. Ed., CEO of INC Education from Frisco, TX; Dana Weeks, Co-Founder & CEO of MedTrans Go from Atlanta, GA; and Jared Wilson, Chief Innovation Officer of ABCD & Company from Rockville, MD.

“African Diaspora Network’s investment in leadership development and mentoring provides a much-needed pathway and pipeline to ensure that Black entrepreneurs will thrive in our new economic reality when we emerge from the pandemic. Seeding African Diaspora Network’s Accelerating Black Leadership and Entrepreneurship program aligns with Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s ongoing commitment to investing in efforts that strengthen communities of color and support the leaders within those communities,” said Nicole Taylor, president and CEO, Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Learn more about the inaugural ABLE cohort here, read testimonials from ABLE partners here, and discover how the African Diaspora Network (ADN) works to support economic and social development for Africa and friends of Africa by visiting http://www.africandiasporanetwork.org

About African Diaspora Network

African Diaspora Network (ADN) is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization. Our mission is to harness and engage the intellectual, financial, philanthropic and entrepreneurial capacity of Africans and friends of Africa in support of economic and social development across Africa. Since 2010, the African Diaspora Network has energized collaboration among Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, philanthropists and African Diasporans to uplift its local community towards the benefit of Africa. ADN is dedicated to providing virtual and physical forums to accelerate access to resources that foster partnership, knowledge sharing, and advance investment opportunities.