Blog|3 min

African Diaspora Network’s ABLE Program Addresses the Opportunity Gap Black Entrepreneurs Face

Almaz Negash
African Diaspora Network, Founder and Executive Director

For every step forward Black entrepreneurs take, systemic barriers are there to meet them and discourage their path forward. To challenge these barriers, African Diasporic Network (ADN) developed the Accelerating Black Leadership and Entrepreneurship (ABLE) program.

ABLE addresses the greatest systemic barriers to Black entrepreneurship, recently noted by the Federal Reserve and others: the lack of ongoing technical and mentorship support and access to capital.

Structural disparities run deep

Black enterprises begin their journey with underlying wealth disparities. The average Black median family income is ten times less than that of white families. Therefore, they have less opportunity to reach out to friends and family for assistance as they begin their venture. They start with three times less capital than their white counterparts.

Despite these disadvantages, minority entrepreneurs have created 4.7 million jobs in the last decade. The median net worth for Black business owners is twelve times higher than for Black non-business owners. This statistic is incredible, especially taking into account all the obstacles Black entrepreneurs face.

The ABLE program seeks to change this

Applications to the ABLE program are now open!! Apply here! The ABLE program provides Black entrepreneurs direct access to venture capital funding as well as critical business connections.

Only one percent of Black businesses are venture-backed, at least in part because of unconscious bias and patterns of social inequality.

Black businesses are much less likely to have a formal relationship with a bank. Black entrepreneur loan requests are 3 times less likely to be approved than those of white entrepreneurs. Black entrepreneurs also lack business connections that are vital to enterprise success.

The ABLE partnership

Almaz Negash, ADN’s Founder and Executive Director, says, “Lack of access to capital and funder networks is a long-standing barrier against the growth of Black-led businesses. Through our ten years of forging collaboration among the private and public sectors, academia, and NGOs to transform Africa, we know that partnerships are key to transforming systems. ADN is proud to build on our expertise to develop and launch a program that prepares the next generation of Black entrepreneurs, alongside such engaged and mission-aligned companies.”

The program is seed funded by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) and fully funded by Bill.com, whose CEO and Founder, René Lacerte, along with the Bill.com team, is personally committed to the program’s success.

ABLE will award 15-20 Black entrepreneurs based in the U.S. with:

  • Leadership and entrepreneurship training

  • Mentoring

  • Networking and community building

  • A pitch session

  • Potential access to venture firms and investors

ADN will partner with Silicon Valley Executive Center (SVEC) to train the selected entrepreneurs in:

  • Leadership and team development

  • Business modeling acumen

  • Financial growth strategies

  • Pitch-for-funding preparation

  • & more

The entrepreneurs will benefit from SVEC’s unparalleled ability to attract capital to sustainable, scalable enterprises. They will gain leadership and mentorship support from Silicon Valley global mentors and ADN’s incomparable network of African and African-American leaders.

By supplying Black entrepreneurs with the tools and social capital they need, ADN — along with partners SVEC, Bill.com, and Silicon Valley Community Foundation — hopes to generate new markets, rebuild local U.S. economies, and help communities rebound.

For more information, please see the ABLE Executive Summary and ADN’s website at https://africandiasporanetwork.org/able/.

If you are a Black entrepreneur whose business or nonprofit is headquartered in the U.S. or if you know a Black entrepreneur, please apply for the program using this form. Nominations will be accepted until Tuesday, June 15.


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