Building Diversity into the Venture Capital Ecosystem

Before Melissa Bradley taught at Georgetown University, before she served under Presidents Clinton and Obama, and long before she launched a nonprofit accelerator to help minority entrepreneurs, she was a young college graduate trying to build her first business.

She went to the Small Business Administration for help with her startup financial services company, and she was turned down flat.

“They told me there was no way in the world I would get funding because I was Black, I was a female, and they didn’t know any successful Black women in financial services,” Bradley said.

That frustrating experience revealed the institutional roadblocks for female and minority entrepreneurs, and it set her on a lifelong path to remove them. At her nonprofit 1863 Ventures, Bradley’s mission is to close the wealth gap in the United States by helping more Black, Brown, and female founders get their businesses off the ground. Her programs provide mentorship and instruction that goes beyond the typical lessons about pitching and fundraising. She wants new entrepreneurs to learn management, marketing, technology and digital skills. Read More>>

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