NJEDA First-in-Nation Black and Latino Seed Fund
Three venture capitalist firms will manage $20M fund aimed to invest in early-stage Black & Latino owned businesses
TRENTON, N.J. (May 10, 2023) –New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Board today approved three firms to manage the $20 million Black and Latino Seed Fund, the only investment fund across the country aimed to increase capital access for early-stage innovative companies founded by diverse entrepreneurs throughout the State. The capital for the Black and Latino Seed Fund were appropriated through the 2021 and 2022 state budget bills that Governor Phil Murphy signed into law. The NJEDA issued Notices of Investment Opportunities (NIOs) seeking experienced investment managers for the Black and Latino Seed Fund in February.
Conscious Venture Partners LLC, Red Bike Capital LLC, and Tale Venture Partners LLC will each manage portions of the fund and make investments into early-stage, innovative, Black- and Latino-owned businesses throughout New Jersey. The three fund managers will be responsible for raising, or contribute to the raising of, private capital, managing the fund’s day-to-day operations, and developing and maintaining a pipeline of prospective, New Jersey-based small businesses that can benefit from the fund. The venture capital firms, based in Maryland, New York, and California have each committed to open a New Jersey office or Accelerator to align with the fund commitment. Additionally, the firms have committed to regularly engage the market at events and networking opportunities, including the NJEDA’s bi-annual NJ Founders & Funders event.
“New Jersey is committed to creating an environment where all entrepreneurs, regardless of race or background, have the same opportunities and access to resources needed to succeed,” said Governor Murphy. “This fund will unlock capital in Black and Latino communities and diversify our state’s innovation economy – breaking down barriers that have plagued these communities for far too long.”
“As we work to cement our role as a national leader in innovation, and build a stronger and fairer New Jersey, we must ensure minority entrepreneurs have equitable access to participate in our economy,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “Less than two percent of all venture capital dollars invested in America go to founders of color, and less than one percent to women of color. Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey has been at the forefront of providing Black and Latino business owners the tools, resources, and capital needed to run a successful business. By ensuring equitable access to our economy, it will help attract new businesses to our state, keep thriving businesses open, and spur economic growth.”
Conscious Venture Partners, based in Baltimore, Maryland, will manage up to $7.5 million of the fund. The firm has a history of investing in diverse entrepreneurs and disadvantaged urban communities. California-based Tale Venture Partners will also manage up to $7.5 million of the fund. The firm, which was founded by first- and second-generation Jamaican-Americans, has invested in diverse entrepreneurs across their portfolio, which has resulted in nearly 1,700 jobs over the past five years. Tale Venture Partners has committed to relocating their headquarters to New Jersey. Lastly, Red Bike Capital, a Latino- and woman-led early-stage fund, will manage up to $5 million of the Black and Latino Fund. The New York-based firm is committed to improving equity and diversity in the venture capital industry and investing in startups that drive the economy and improve people’s lives. Red Bike Capital has committed to opening an office in New Jersey.
“Ensuring Black and Latino business owners have equitable access to capital will transform neighborhoods and boost our state economy,” said Lieutenant Governor Sheila Oliver. “I am proud that Governor Murphy, throughout his tenure, has invested financial resources into communities that have historically been left out. This fund will give entrepreneurs of color the fair opportunity they deserve to succeed.”
“The NJEDA is working to remove systemic obstacles that far too many Black and Latino business owners face when trying to get their businesses off the ground,” said NJEDA Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Michelle Bodden. “The seed fund we are launching will strengthen Black and Latino businesses owners, their families, and their communities – creating a stronger, fairer economic future for generations to come.”
“New Jersey is making smart investments into our early-stage companies, particularly in minority-owned businesses,” said NJEDA Chief Economic Transformation Officer Kathleen Coviello. “By investing in strategic sectors, New Jersey is supporting the growth of our diverse business community and our innovation industry, while strengthening our economy.”
Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Legislature committed up to $20 million to form a New Jersey- specific fund that will drive capital to innovative Black- and Latino-owned enterprises. The fund aims to address the nationwide investment crisis within the innovation economy by helping close funding gaps that exist for far too many entrepreneurs of color. Crafted with input from Black and Latino founders, investors, and policy experts, this seed fund is an important step toward tearing down the institutional barriers that hold Black and Latino entrepreneurs back and replacing them with accessible resources that respond to these innovators’ unique needs.