Arkansas’ first and only black-led venture capital firm, High Street Equity Partners, announced Aug. 22 an inaugural fund of $15 million to invest in technology-focused businesses led by women and of Black, Indigenous, and Entrepreneurs of Color (BIPOC), both in Arkansas and in the heartland, helping those who are severely underrepresented in venture capital funding, both demographically and geographically.
Despite being the fastest growing demographic among entrepreneurs and consumers, women only receive 3% of venture capital funding nationwide. BIPOC founders currently receive even less as a group, at just 2%. This dynamic is further compounded by the fact that nearly 90% of the country’s venture capital is absorbed by entrepreneurs living in just five states along the coast, leaving very little room for growth for those in Arkansas. According to High Street, these overlooked entrepreneurs represent missed opportunities.
“High Street’s mission is to create value with more than capital,” said High Street general partner Tristan Wilkerson. “Historic High Street was the cultural center and marketplace of the state’s largest city before it was renamed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in honor of the iconic civil rights leader. The company name is a tribute to the company’s vision and purpose to invest in bringing the everyday economy into the 21st century – creating space and a place where people can live, work and flourish.
As part of the inaugural fund, High Point has already invested in Happied, an enterprise software company focused on employee wellbeing and retention through engaging corporate events, and ChargerHelp, a state-of-the-art public services and creating jobs in the emerging field of electric vehicles.
“We are delighted to invest in Happied and align with our shared beliefs about the future of work,” said Mitch Brooks, General Partner of High Street. “We believe in April’s vision and this incredible all-female leadership team ran a profitable business of over $1 million before seeking outside capital. It’s a testament to their courage and savvy. Our capital will help them grow their business.
High Street Equity Partners actively connects with entrepreneur support organizations across the heartland and engages with young local institutions and individuals in fledgling business ventures. To learn more, Click here to visit its website.
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