Yinka Faleti hopes to raise $25 million to help invest in minority-run businesses.
According to Faleti, venture capital (VC) firms across the country had an outstanding track record last year, with $330 billion invested in companies across the United States.
However, less than 1% of the company’s founders were black and 3% of the founders were women.
And Faleti says those stats stink.
“I care about that personally, and that’s a big part of why I’m in this space,” Faleti said.
Ascend Venture Capital has 18 portfolio companies, seven of which are minority founded and run.
But in Faleti’s view, many local and national venture capital firms are not doing enough to ensure that all entrepreneurs are included in opportunities that are beneficial to their business.
White men control 93% of the $330 billion invested last year.
“Most venture capitalists fund people who look like them, so many stones remain unturned when other communities are not considered,” Faleti said.
So what is venture capital and how does it help entrepreneurs?
Well, it is an economic investment tool that was introduced in the United States in the mid-1970s. This is how Facebook, Netflix, and other multi-million dollar companies got their start. A venture capitalist has invested in the business owner and in the business.
The recipient business receives financial support, mentoring and the business network to further develop the new owner business.
But because financial literacy is a newer topic in many black and brown households, venture capital isn’t discussed at the dinner table.
Faleti hopes to broaden the scope of introducing venture capital to minority-led businesses by helping to eliminate the bias of venture capitalists when it comes to investing in non-male-led businesses. whites.
Faleti knows he has his work cut out for him, but he’s no stranger to succeeding under demanding circumstances.
A Nigerian immigrant, Faleti graduated from Westpoint, studied law at the University of Washington, became a prosecutor, led the Forward Through Ferguson initiative and ran for secretary of state in 2020.
“My north star has always been, how can I positively impact the community,” Faleti said.
And Ascend Venture Capital is giving him that opportunity to impact overlooked talent in the St. Louis area.
Working at a venture capital firm, Faleti has the chance to ensure that minorities have a seat at the table, they can create generational wealth. He says we cannot keep repeating the same mistakes of 250 years ago. Business owners north of Delmar now have the opportunity to generate economic viability in their community with the help of Ascend Venture Capital investing there. These are companies with access to funds and investors.
“When it comes to people of color, we have phenomenal ideas, for businesses, for start-ups, and usually when we go to a bank for a loan, we usually don’t get the loan. And our ideas are dying on the vine,” Faleti said.
He says it’s almost like you have to be rich to get rich and I’m here to create equity and opportunity for minorities and those who aren’t rich.