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Wakanda’s on-screen lessons for ‘inclusion alpha’

ImpactAlpha, July 3 – Black Panther’s big screen story of Black technological and economic power resonated with the team at Impact America Fund (see, Agent of Impact Kesha Cash).

The African-American led venture capital firm invests in businesses using tech to advance economic agency in communities of color striving to overcome legacies of racism. Portfolio companies include supply chain diversity platform ConnXus and hair-products platform Mayvenn.

A case study published in collaboration with Living Cities lays out an investment framework drawn from Black Panther that counters narratives of deficit and unlocks assets in overlooked communities.

Visiting Oakland at the end the film, King T’Challa of Wakanda, the film’s fictional African utopia, finds cultural equals whose deficits result from extraction and underinvestment. T’Challa invests in STEM education and an outreach center to create jobs and unlock the community’s potential.

The Black Panther story “shares with us a central belief that the seeds of a dynamic black future already exist within the minds of those among us—as long as, together, we are willing to step forward and author it,” writes Impact America Fund’s Stefanie Thomas. Wakanda’s lessons in “inclusion alpha”:

  • Counter narratives. Founders from underserved communities may not match conventional images of entrepreneurs. Support founders with deep personal and professional connections to the problems they’re solving. Tap cultural capital for aptitudes, insights, resources and resourcefulness within communities
  • Add value. Don’t extract it. Back companies that move stakeholders toward self-determination and help them equitably recover from setbacks. Intentionally build an inclusive investment ecosystem. Reach out to diverse accelerators and seed-funds. Invite diverse participants to the many tables you sit at. Learn from them.

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