Black business owners will get a hefty $20 million venture capital funding commitment courtesy of Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures.
The venture capital arm of Milwaukee-based life insurance and financial services giant Northwestern Mutual will invest the money in startup companies founded by Black entrepreneurs. Plans also call for the launch of the Northwestern Mutual Black Founder Accelerator, a new startup accelerator powered by nationally ranked startup accelerator gener8tor.
The company reports the new initiatives are part of its ongoing commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion and driving equity through innovation. On the venture capital front, the funding is needed. Northwestern Mutual reports Black founders receive less than one percent of venture capital funding annually. It added Northwestern Mutual and gener8tor are committed to investing in and supporting Black entrepreneurs to help close this funding gap and advance their companies.
“At Northwestern Mutual we’re dedicated to supporting and promoting diversity not just within our company, but within our communities and the businesses we partner with nationwide,” John Grogan, chief product and innovation officer, Northwestern Mutual stated in a news release.
“Allocating $20 million is only the beginning – we will continue to invest in and provide opportunities for Black founders and are committed to providing access to capital and resources to help them grow their businesses.”
Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures claims it is focused on advancing the company’s investment strategy of engaging startups whose technologies have the potential to transform how people experience financial security. It declares investment criteria for the $20 million Black founder funding allocation is aligned with the fund’s key strategic areas of focus:
- Building for consumers’ changing financial preferences
- Reimagining the client experience
- The digital health revolution
- Transformational analytics and technologies
“Innovative thinking is required to drive breakthrough solutions to close the racial equity gap, and by supporting Black founders through Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures and the new accelerator program in partnership with gener8tor, we can make a difference to close this funding gap,” stated Abim Kolawole, vice president, digital innovation, Northwestern Mutual. “Our company’s Sustained Action for Racial Equity task force, which launched earlier this year, is looking at racism and inequality from every perspective. These initiatives will drive change and create impact within our company and communities.”
Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.
Further, The Northwestern Mutual Black Founder Accelerator is gener8tor’s first accelerator exclusively focused on advancing Black founders. The 12-week accelerator will run up to two cohorts of five companies a year and startups must be aligned to Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures’ investment areas of focus. The first cohort will begin in early 2021.