Pharrell Williams’ Nonprofit Gives Grants To Black Entrepreneurs

Launch of Joopiter with Pharrell Williams

Source: Johnny Nunes/Getty

Mvisionary and benevolent Pharrell Williams is leading its efforts to level the playing field for Black and Brown founders in the entrepreneurial world. It was recently revealed that he is awarding $2.5 million to innovators of color to fund his Black Ambition Prize initiative.

Access to capital has long been a barrier for Black and Latino entrepreneurs. Research shows they receive less than three percent of VC funding in the U.S. Determined to change the narrative, Williams developed the nonprofit Black Ambition to provide underrepresented founders with the resources they need to grow and scale their businesses. Under the umbrella of the non-profit organization is the Black Ambition Award, which annually provides capital to entrepreneurs who have launched businesses in the technology, healthcare, media and entertainment sectors and other sectors.

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“We need a voice,” he said in one statement discussing the launch of Black Ambition two years ago. “We have the smallest piece of the American pie in terms of ownership. The Asian dollar remains in this community for about 30 days; our Jewish brothers and sisters, their dollar stays in every community for 20 days. The African-American dollar remains in its community for six hours because we do not have much wealth. The goal with Black Ambition is to help strengthen the pipeline of talented entrepreneurs and address the opportunities and wealth gaps created by limited access to capital and resources.

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On Nov. 1, Williams will return to his hometown of Norfolk to present 31 entrepreneurs at the Mighty Dreams Forum with donations, as well as grants to HBCU scholars who have started businesses. Past winners include Livegistics, a company that uses technology to streamline processes in the construction industry, and Dosso Beauty, a company created by an HBCU student that provides affordable, organic hair and beauty.

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The news of this year’s Black Ambition award comes months after Williams collectively with technology company Cisco to equip young people with the digital tools they need to thrive in the classroom.

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