This in-depth report on the financing challenges faced by entrepreneurs of color features insights from BII CEO Betty Francisco:
Betty Francisco, CEO of Boston Impact Initiative, a nonprofit investment fund focused on economic and racial justice, is one voice in the state bringing awareness and making strides to address the gaps causing minority startup entrepreneurs to have less access to capital. Francisco began her career as a corporate lawyer focused on deals related to transactions. In the eight years she worked in that role, she saw what she called a significant lack of representation among investor firms.
“I didn’t see people who look like me,” she said.
While Francisco watched opportunities appear for entrepreneurs, few were focused on people of color. She shifted careers to her role now at BII, where she channels her passion for helping women- and person-of-color-owned businesses. The BII pilot fund, which only focused on Boston-based and Eastern Massachusetts businesses, is expanding, now on its third and largest financing round yet.
Francisco said the next available round of funding, amounting to $20 million, will be available with a focus on immigrant populations outside of Boston growing and starting businesses. In Worcester, the fund is looking to build relationships with Latino-owned businesses.
Francisco credits COVID-era grants as helping small businesses stay afloat and manage their expenses.
“But they only did just so much,” she said. “There is a need for much more money to stabilize and grow.”