Today only 1% of venture-backed startups have a Black founder and less than 3% of venture investors are Black, with even fewer controlling the $100B+ invested annually in the US. The challenge remains clear. Over the past several years, many venture firms have doubled down on diversity efforts, but progress can be slow without the right focus and relevant partners. As we continue our own efforts at Norwest to identify, invest in, and support Black founders and investors, we’re proud to announce our partnership with BLCK VC.
Founded in 2018 by Sydney Sykes, a former VC at New Enterprise Associates, and Frederik Groce, a VC at Storm Ventures, BLCK VC is a nonprofit advocacy organization focused on connecting, engaging, empowering, and advancing Black venture investors by providing a focused community built for and by Black venture investors. The organization is skillfully pushing firms to double the number of Black investors by 2024.
Norwest is focused on tangible steps that will push the industry to face and change its shortcomings. This includes working hand in hand with partners such as BLCK VC to provide relevant access, mentorship, and resources to make an impact. 2020 has been a huge year for the BLCK VC team, with the launch of programs such as the Breaking into Venture program and The Black Venture Institute. The organization also recently hired its first Chief of Staff, Samer Yousif. Samer will be working closely with Norwest’s senior leadership team and committee leads to plan and execute strategic initiatives, build and execute on improvements to our organizational structure, and optimize current processes and procedures.
“We are aligned with BLCK VC’s mission, and in partnership, we are focused on increasing the number of Black investment professionals in venture capital. We also look forward to building meaningful relationships that will expand our investment pipeline, which is a key goal for both organizations,” said Priti Youssef Choksi, Norwest Partner.
“At BLCK VC, we know that businesses, investors and companies are better when they are more diverse,” stated BLCK VC Co-Founder Sydney Sykes. “Norwest also shares this vision and not only recognizes that there’s a lot of work to be done in the VC industry but is playing an active role in driving real change. We look forward to working with NVP Managing Partner Jeff Crowe, Priti and the Norwest team on transforming the venture capital and tech industry.”
We look forward to partnering with Samer, Sydney, Fred, and the BLCK VC team to create a conducive funding and hiring environment for Black founders and investors.