There are very few black and Latinx investors, with only 2 percent of investment team members at VC firms identifying as black and just 1 percent identifying as Latinx, according to the National Venture Capital Association. This is where HBCU.vc comes in.
HBCU.vc, a pivot from HBCU to Startup, aims to diversify the white, male-dominated world of venture capital. HBCU.vc's program works with students attending historically black colleges and universities to teach them the fundamentals of venture capital and entrepreneurship.
The goal of the remote-based program is educate underserved communities about VC and to build the next generation of venture capitalists and entrepreneur.
"We haven't seen racial diversity in venture capital and realize how it has a huge impact on the overall tech ecosystem," HBCU.vc founder Hadiyah Mujhid told TechCrunch. "What currently happens is investors invest within their network -- people they know. Those people then turn around and hire people they know within their network. There are these systematic structures in place that, by design, have locked out people of color."
Through the program, students are paired with a VC mentor, work as interns at a venture capital firm and act as investors in their local college communities. The year-long program teaches students how to identify investment opportunities, conduct market research and make real funding decisions. HBCU.vc mentors include Lo Toney of Google Ventures, Carolina Huaranca of Kapor Capital, Monique Woodard of 500 Startups, Richard Kerby of Venrock and others.
HBCU.vc's first batch includes 11 students from three universities: Fisk, Florida A&M and Prairie View A&M. Students were not required to have any type of past experience in the startup and venture capital ecosystems. Instead, Mujhid said she "wanted to see a natural curiosity and passion around learning the industry."
For this academic school year, the students have internships at firms like Cross Culture Ventures, Indie.VC, Kapor Capital and 500 Startups. Their internships entail doing a lot of the work an associate VC would do, Mujhid said. That means researching startups and trends, providing analysis and bringing more startups into the firm's portfolio.
"We seem them as an extension of the funds they're working with in their local communities," Mujhid said. "We want to empower them as mini VCs to support entrepreneurs."
Down the road, the plan is to get to 100 associates. Next year, HBCU.vc is aiming to be at 12 universities with 40 students and then the following year get to 20 universities with 100 students.
"The model is going to change and we’re currently investigating what it looks like for us to have our own independent venture fund and work directly through our venture fund as associates," Mujhid said.
The program, which is totally free to students, is currently supported via a $100,000 grant from an organization that Mujhid was not able to disclose to me. HBCU.vc, a non-profit organization, also accepts donations through its website.
- This article originally appeared on TechCrunch.