Black entrepreneurs in the United States recently received support from what at first glance seems a somewhat surprising source: an Israeli company.
But for online freelancer platform Fiverr, the choice to launch a business accelerator fellowship for black entrepreneurs was a natural one.
“Fiverr’s purpose is to provide anyone, no matter their race, religion, background or beliefs, the opportunity to build their business, brand or dreams. The U.S. is our largest market and therefore it’s incumbent upon us to use our platform and resources to help our community there however we can,” said Fiverr CMO Gali Arnon.
“There is still so much work to be done to ensure equality for marginalized communities, and specifically black-owned businesses, and so we’re thrilled to be able to support these incredible five businesses with the funding, mentoring and training they deserve,” she said.
The inaugural class of the Future Collective Fellowship Program includes five entrepreneurs from a wide range of fields who were selected from some 1,500 applicants.
The first business selected, Appdrop, enables non-technical teams to build mobile apps without writing code.
The second, Budget Collector, has developed an AI-based art adviser mobile app.
The third business, De L’or Cakery, is an artisan cake catering company that uses many ingredients imported from the Caribbean. The fourth, Hey Girl Hey, has developed a card game built to foster community connections among black women.
And the fifth, Keeyahri, is a luxury women’s shoe brand that aims to empower women through its unique designs.
Mentoring and strategy
Each of the Future Collective fellows will receive $24,000 from Fiverr, guaranteed placement in an accelerator program organized and orchestrated by black-led nonprofit organization 1863 Ventures and regular mentorship and guidance from Fiverr’s senior management team. The collective is also supported by Maestra, a business strategy firm.
Cohort members will meet monthly, and they’ll also be assigned online materials to review and complete coupled with regular coaching sessions. The fellows will have access to 1863 Ventures’ weekly entrepreneur webinar sessions, allowing them to participate in sessions relevant to their business and growth.
“Fiverr’s Future Collective is set to be an annual accelerator program targeting entrepreneurs and business owners in marginalized communities,” Arnon said. “The goal of the program is to provide them with the funding, proper training and mentoring to help them succeed long term. We are thrilled with our inaugural class of fellows and can’t wait to see where they take their businesses post-graduation.”
“I had entirely given up on fundraising because I realized as a black woman the system doesn’t work for me,” said Ebonique Boyd, co-founder of Budget Collector.
“In my life, I’ve never been given the benefit of the doubt, and the first impressions people have of me are generally influenced by the characterizations they see on TV. The explicit bias I have seen in the investor community was like nothing I have ever seen in my life,” she said.
“For me, the program is a chance for me to regain my spirit after dealing with the investor community and to build a profitable company quicker than I could without the capital and the guidance provided by Fiverr, 1863 Ventures and Maestra. After our product launch and with some preparation with our team’s internal advisers as well, I hope to raise a successful round,” said Boyd.
Keya Martin, founder of Keeyahri shoe brand, said the Future Collective “will help me to identify gaps in my strategy, learn from others who have navigated similar situations, develop professional relationships with knowledgeable people, and build connections.
“Receiving feedback and guidance will aid in providing a viable lens that will allow us to improve our product strategy, project roadmap, business goals, and ultimately push the boundaries even further,” she said.
“I’m looking forward to building a team, partnering with more retailers, collaborating with brands and corporations, raising capital to scale and developing new designs. My ultimate goal is to build a global fashion house and in turn pay it forward.”
Produced in association with Israel21C.