Agents of Impact | April 9, 2021

Kathryn Finney, Genius Guild

Roodgally Senatus
ImpactAlpha Editor

Roodgally Senatus

ImpactAlpha, Apr. 9 – The entrepreneur and investor’s answer to systemic economic exclusion of Black, Indigenous and other people of color: Build an ecosystem that intentionally fosters their participation.

Finney, who has a background in fashion and epidemiology, previously founded DigitalUndivided, which supports female founders, and The Donnie Fund, which provides micro investments to thousands of Black women-owned businesses. Genius Guild will build and invest in Black-led companies serving Black communities on the way to global scale (see, “Genius Guild scores $5 million financing to back Black-led tech ventures).

Finney points to the success of Richelieu Dennis’ Sundial Brands, the parent company of Shea Moisture, which was acquired by Unilever. “We know that products and services that first achieve success by serving Black communities often reach significant scale as they expand outside of our community,” Finney writes on Medium

Finney is creating space for such ideas to flourish. Genius Guild comes “from a deep place of abundance in an industry (venture capital) that has a history of actively applying scarcity models to Black entrepreneurs,” she says. The venture studio model, including a business creation lab and a venture capital fund, will allow Finney to co-build with Black founders and then invest.

When Finney says she’s investing to “end racism” it’s personal. Finney’s great-grandparents lost their home and a thriving restaurant business in the 1921 race massacre in Tulsa’s Greenwood district, known as “Black Wall Street.” She says she’s addressing “the ways in which capitalism and capitalist markets have been manipulated to limit, exclude, and defraud Black communities — to defraud people like my great-grandparents.”

Paraphrasing Audre Lord, she says “using the master’s tools to fix the master’s house is extremely hard.” What if, she asks, “We use the master’s tools… to build our own tools and our own houses?”