George Floyd’s death while being arrested by Minneapolis police sparked a range of reactions from peaceful protests to property destruction, from individual soul-searching to countless discussions about racial inequality around the world — including among the impact investing community.
Karma spoke with black entrepreneurs and investors for their views on how impact investors might address the centuries-long American problem of racial injustice. Here’s what they said:
Vonetta Young, Advisor on Investment Readiness + Fund Formation at Vonetta Young Advisors
“What’s been sticking with me this week is the companies that have made statements in support of Black Lives Matter. If you’re doing it because everyone else is, then it’s not worth doing, but if you genuinely believe in it and speak from the heart, then yes, it is.
“For impact investors, it’s very similar: I don’t want this to be a temporary thing where everyone is suddenly interested in black businesses but next week they’re focused on something else. I hope it’s a genuine interest where people see the value of Black founders. I hope they also see the benefit of having Black investors — if there was more diversity, perhaps the numbers wouldn’t be so disparate.”
McKeever “Mac” Conwell, Manager of Portfolio Development and Entrepreneurial Resources at TEDCO
“It’s not enough to say you have an open-door policy. What do you do with entrepreneurs who aren’t part of your following? All the things that you do are catered to the people within the network and already know how this works. There’s a lot of entrepreneurs who don’t.
“Go into those rooms yourself and show people that you’re here. Go to the places VCs and investors don’t go. Know that when you walk into those rooms, those people may not trust you. But it’s up to you to do that work, not on them to find you. The organizations that are doing it well, it’s because they’ve been intentional about spreading the word.”
Donnell Williams, President of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers
“It’s a new day. If nothing else, 2020 has shown us that business as usual is over and some rules were made to be broken.
“The black home ownership rate since I’ve been president has risen to 44%, but we’re still 30% percentage points behind white America. That prevents us from being able to pay for college, so now we have to get a loan. Most business loans are secured by collateral — the first thing they look at is your home. Everything goes down that path. … We need to educate those first-generation homeowners about how important it is.
“It’s a true powder keg, and we’re already tired. We just had the guy in Georgia that got shot while jogging. … Then, the report comes out that African-Americans are more hit by COVID-19 anybody else. Then unemployment. Health disparity. The wealth gap.
“When they ask, ‘What did you do when they were shooting black men in the street? What’d you do when they were choking them?’ I can say that I fought back economically.”
Karma wants to hear what actions you are taking or believe should be taken. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or message us on Twitter @thekarmaimpact.
Karma’s Glenn Gamboa contributed to this story.