On CEO Chatter LIVE this week, Fancy is joined by Dr. Cameka Smith of The BOSS Network. The BOSS Network is a digital platform for black women entrepreneurs. Dr. Smith launched this community almost 15 years ago. As an event planner and marketing executive, Dr. Smith was looking for resources and opportunities to network with other minority women who wanted to start businesses. So she decided to create her own series of events around entrepreneurship for Black women. “During those events, women just kept asking me, “How can I join your community? ” And I would be like, “Oh, it’s not a community,” Dr. Smith shares. “As any good entrepreneur would do, I just started doing my research on communities and how I could best engage these women.”
Dr. Smith and her team saw that less than 1% of Black women get access to venture capital funding. She explains, “There’s this disparity when it comes to getting traditional bank loans because of racism and all types of biases that happen. And so I said, “You know what? If I can go to my sponsors- my partners, and we can launch our own fund, maybe we can support some of these women to help get them through this period.” That’s how we created and launched the Boss Impact Fund.”
The BOSS Network’s goal l was to raise $10 million over the next five years to invest in Black women entrepreneurs. They launched their first investment progress grant program with $1.5 million with a partner called Sage. So far, they’ve invested in 48 Black women. At the time of this interview, The Boss Network had received over 15,000 applications for the 2023 grant, which was marketed across social media and business/entrepreneurship platforms, including Hello Alice. The grant closed on February 25, 2023, but Dr. Smith says it will return next year, so be ready.
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3 Takeaways from the Interview:
- Do your research when considering partnering with companies or pursuing sponsorships.
- Relationships are essential for growth.
- Know how you plan to utilize your funds.
Connect with Dr. Cameka Smith & The BOSS Network:
To learn more about The BOSS Network, visit https://www.thebossnetwork.org.