NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Today, Project Entrepreneur, a UBS program designed to level the playing field for female founders, and Hello Alice, a multi-channel platform that helps businesses launch and grow, announced the winners of its Democratizing the Friends & Family Round program, which attracted 12,000 applications. The program was announced in October 2021 and was built to help close the equity gap that female founders of color experience when obtaining access to capital.
Due to popular demand, the program increased the amount of grants available from 30 to 40. In total, $1 million has been distributed to early-stage, high-growth companies led by female founders of color. Some of the winning companies included, STEAM-focused gaming for girls, artificial intelligence-powered beauty brands, med-tech innovations, and artisanal food products. The founders will use the grants to help their companies reach their next big milestone and, in some cases, is a life-changing injection of capital.
“The sheer number of high-quality applications to our program highlights the inequality that female founders of color face and the financial support they need from investors to continue to grow their companies,” said Jamie Sears, Head of Community Impact & Corporate Responsibility, Americas at UBS. “We’ve seen first-hand through Project Entrepreneur the talent that exists in this community and are thrilled to have created this opportunity with Hello Alice to invest in the success of these remarkable women and their companies.”
In addition to providing $25,000 in individual grants, each founder will gain access to virtual coaching and other skill-building opportunities. Furthermore, all 12,000 applicants that submitted for the program, regardless of whether they’re in the final 40, will receive free access to thousands of curated resources and a community of 600,000+ business owners through Hello Alice.
"As a Latina who knows first-hand the challenges of raising venture capital, I couldn't be more excited to work with UBS to help these incredible women grow their companies,” said Carolyn Rodz, Co-Founder and CEO of Hello Alice. “Through programs like this, we can help narrow the gap in funding for women, giving them more opportunities to bring their great business ideas to life."
Female founders of color have historically been denied equitable access to capital of all forms. Black and Latinx female founders receive less than 1% of venture capital1, but the funding gaps start far before founders of color prepare to raise their first venture round. Nearly 40% of early-stage entrepreneurs2 raise initial funding through a “Friends and Family” investment round. However, because of the racial wealth gap in the U.S.—the disparity in median wealth between people of different races—many entrepreneurs of color do not have access to a network that can provide them with the necessary funding. As a result, entrepreneurs are prevented from testing their innovations, hiring key talent, and having the runway to grow and raise future investments.
“It’s hard building a company from scratch. Any time you get that support of people who believe in you and want to contribute to that journey it makes a huge difference, and I am just so thankful,” said grant recipient Dr. Christine Izuakor, Founder & CEO of Cyber Pop-up.
“As a bootstrapped, self-made manufacturer, our capital is tied up in production, giving little budget for sales and marketing. This grant will boost our efforts in sharing Numa with more people,” said grant recipient Joyce Zhu, Founder & CEO of Numa Foods.
To be eligible for the program, applicants had to be leading an early-stage, high-growth company registered in the U.S. and have at least one founder who identifies as a woman of color. View the full list of grant winners and their companies here.
Notes to Editors
About Project Entrepreneur
Project Entrepreneur, a flagship program by UBS, is on a mission to change the status quo female founders by increasing their investment readiness, connecting them to the networks and resources they need to grow and scale their companies and expand the ecosystem of support that advance women entrepreneurs. Since 2015, Project Entrepreneur has trained and supported more than 1,800 female founders with alumni going on to raise more than $60M in capital.
UBS provides financial advice and solutions to wealthy, institutional and corporate clients worldwide, as well as private clients in Switzerland. UBS is the largest truly global wealth manager, and a leading personal and corporate bank in Switzerland, with a large-scale and diversified global asset manager and a focused investment bank. The bank focuses on businesses that have a strong competitive position in their targeted markets, are capital efficient, and have an attractive long-term structural growth or profitability outlook.
UBS is present in all major financial centers worldwide. It has offices in more than 50 regions and locations, with about 30% of its employees working in the Americas, 30% in Switzerland, 19% in the rest of Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 21% in Asia Pacific. UBS Group AG employs more than 72,000 people around the world. Its shares are listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
About Hello Alice
Hello Alice is a free, multichannel platform that helps businesses launch and grow. With a community of nearly 500,000 business owners in all 50 states and across the globe, Hello Alice is building the largest network of owners in the country while tracking data and trends to increase the success rate for entrepreneurs. Our partners include enterprise business services, government agencies, and institutions looking to serve small- and medium-business owners to ensure increased revenues and promote scale. A Latina owned company, founded by Carolyn Rodz and Elizabeth Gore, we believe in business for all by providing access to all owners including women, people of color, veterans, and everyone with an entrepreneurial spirit.
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