According to a new report by ProjectDiane, a biennial study of black women entrepreneurs, the number of startups founded by black women has jumped by more than 2.5 times in just two years. ProjectDiane’s database recorded 227 startups this year as compared to 84 startups in ProjectDiane’s 2016 study, which rightly dubbed black women the “real unicorns of tech.”
This upswing has been accompanied by a jump in the amount of funding black women are allotted: In 2017, 34 black women founders had raised more than $1 million in funding. (In 2015, that was only the case for 12 black women.) But that’s still a drop in the proverbial funding bucket. Black women founders have raised just 0.068%—$289 million—of the $424.7 billion in tech VC funding granted since 2009.
For a company like Uber that burns through capital like you do your Netflix queue, $289 million is about how much a series C round of funding yields. What’s more, ProjectDiane reports that the vast majority—close to $250 million—of the money black women founders have seen was raised in 2017; on average, black women founders reportedly still raise just $42,000. None of this is exactly surprising, though, when the total funding awarded to all female founders in 2017 amounted to just 2% of the $85 billion raised overall in venture capital funding.
Even in 2018, few VCs explicitly back underrepresented founders of color. One notable exception is Arlan Hamilton, the founder of Backstage Capital, who recently announced Backstage is raising $36 million for a new fund that will invest solely in black women founders. Each company will receive at least $1 million in funding—which, as ProjectDiane’s findings indicate, is a unicorn funding round for many black women. To quote Hamilton: It’s about damn time.