Arian Simone sat poised center stage at the Embrace Action Summit to share words that many entrepreneurs in the audience understood far too well.
“Women of color are the most founded, entrepreneurial demographic,” she said at the biannual business conference hosted by the Tory Burch Foundation. “They are just the least funded.”
Simone is the co-founder of Fearless Fund, one of the first funds launched by women of color that aim to only invest in women of color. At the event, her words rang true for the audience, many of whom are women entrepreneurs and know very well the daunting journey of fundraising that leaves them with only about 2% of all venture capital investment.
“It’s going to take trillions of dollars to move these statistics,” Simone said.
“When we first started the Fearless Fund, people looked at us like we were crazy.” Arian Simone, co-founder, Fearless Fund
The current market downturn might drastically hinder any progress being made on this front. Valuations have plummeted, and total funding at all stages has declined. In May, Sequoia warned its founders that the financial recovery could be long, and Y Combinator told the companies in its portfolio that their chances of successfully fundraising were “extremely low” in this downturn.
However, the situation for diverse investors and founders ironically has a silver lining. While minority, women-led businesses need to be supported at this time, Simone said, these founders are used to weathering harsh economic conditions due to systemic barriers that have already excluded them from fundraising. There might be an increased dearth of capital this year, but access to the money wasn’t necessarily promised to these founders anyway.
As a result, Simone and her portfolio have a simple plan for navigating this time: Conduct business as usual.