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Two-time Super Bowl champion and New Orleans Saints star Malcolm Jenkins launched a new venture capital fund last week called Broad Street Ventures. It’s funded entirely by Black and brown investors, including fellow NFL players, a feat that distinguishes the firm from other venture capital initiatives started by big-name athletes.
Jenkins hopes the new business, co-founded by lifelong friend Ralonda Johnson, will help more Black people enter the VC world, which has come under fire for its lack of diversity.
“My peers are the ones typically left out of the VC world,” Jenkins told Forbes’s Christina Settimi. “We are being very intentional to bring Black and brown people in and make them aware of this opportunity.”
Among the fund’s early investors is broadcaster Sharrie Williams, who reported on Jenkins back when he was a safety for the Philadelphia Eagles. Also involved are Jenkins’s former Eagles teammates Rodney McLeod and Jordan Matthews, as well as twin brothers Devin and Jason McCourty of the New England Patriots.
So far, the company’s strategy is to invest in companies backed by top VCs. For example, its portfolio already includes Airbnb and Epic Games, as well as Turo, NoBull, Automattic, and ZenWtr. However, Jenkin’s long-term goal for Broad Street Ventures is to invest in the Black and brown businesses that typically would not have access to the necessary capital or social network for scaling startups, Forbes first reported.
Just 1% of venture-backed founders are Black, per a recent study conducted by RateMyInvestor and DiversityVC, and 81% of VC firms don’t have a single Black investor, according to BLCK VC, an organization seeking to support Black venture capitalists. Experts say that the two phenomena are interrelated: if VC investors are overwhelmingly white, they’re more likely to overlook promising startups with minority founders.
It’s not the first time Jenkins has publicly-committed himself to address racial inequality. Earlier this year, CNN hired the NFL star as a contributor to its coverage of issues surrounding racism and social justice.
Proud to join the @CNN family today as a regular contributor. Looking forward to being heard. #blacklivesmatter #MoreThanAnAthlete https://t.co/oizjMBy7s6
— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) June 15, 2020
And while many professional athletes have turned to venture capital as an investment strategy, Jenkins’s fund is one of the first to focus specifically on financially empowering people of color. He says he wants to focus specifically on empowering women of color.
“Black women are helping to rewrite the narrative and we are inviting more Black women to the table to create generational wealth for themselves and others,” he told the Associated Press. “This is an important initiative to me, as my businesses are not only run by strong women but also supported by women.”
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Source:: Businessinsider – Sports