The Reconstruction | November 16, 2021

The Reconstruction: Building an ecosystem for Black and Brown entrepreneurs

Cesar Chavez
ImpactAlpha Editor

Cesar Chavez

ImpactAlpha, Nov. 16, 2021 – As co-convener of the Black Innovation Alliance, Kelly Burton is working to bring together small business owners and startup founders to help Black and Brown entrepreneurs level up – and change the narrative. 

“The work that we’re doing is about creating a more equitable and just world,” Burton tells host Monique Aiken on the latest episode of The Reconstruction podcast. “I think the more we lean into love, the more we will be able to actually achieve a more love-infused world.”

Launched in June 2020, the coalition of 50 organizations in two dozen U.S. cities is working to build an ecosystem for members to make connections and share resources. Members include Aniyia Williams of Black & Brown Founders, Daniel Wright of 1863 Ventures, Luis Martinez of We Tha Plug and Jessica Norwood of Runway. 

The collective’s ten-year goal is to recruit at least 500 organizations to support, fund, and sustain one million Black innovators.

In 2014, the Atlanta-based entrepreneur founded Bodyology, a line of moisture resistant undergarments specially designed for women with active lifestyles or medical conditions. She moved on after three years, a personal investment of $150,000 and struggles to make it profitable. 

Burton connected with other entrepreneurs and learned they faced similar barriers. She started Founders of Color, a membership program designed to help minority entrepreneurs scale their businesses. 

White led-firms generate about 10 times the revenue of Black-led firms. Nine out of 10 Black-owned businesses have no employees creating what Burton calls “a solopreneurship crisis.”

Burton is pulling her ideas together in a book to be titled, “More Perfect: Diversity, Democracy & the Future of America.”

“The democracy that we have is not equipped to carry us very far into the future,” she says. “We really don’t appreciate all the ways that American democracy, prosperity, security, stability has fed off of inequality over the course of the last 250 years.”

This podcast is part of ImpactAlpha’s new podcast series, The Reconstruction. Find episodes of The Reconstruction podcast, and all of ImpactAlpha’s coverage of racial justice and inclusive prosperity, on The Reconstruction landing page.