With the billions raised through Kickstarter and Indiegogo, is there really a need for a crowdfunding portal to specialize in ‘Black’ projects?
Some time ago, I received this question from a well-meaning and committed Sista. It gave me the chance to talk about why We Need To Be Our Own Angels.
“Crowd funding websites like Kickstarter is all the rage. Now the small business person can appeal to the crowd for support their project or startup. They no longer need “the Man” to okay their business idea. Many African American projects have been successfully funded on these various crowd funding platforms. So is a Black crowd funding website really necessary? In the global marketplace of ideas, do African Americans need a crowd funding website to cater specifically to their needs?
What kind of project is more likely to be funded on a “Black only” crowd funding website than say on Indiegogo? Please enlighten me because I see a diversity of Black projects funded on these platforms. I also see little activity on Black crowd funding websites. I mean no disrespect, but I think it’s time for some of these ‘Black only” funding websites to re-think their mission. Maybe it’s time to bring more than “just us” to the table of ideas when contemplating how to bring economic development to Black communities around the globe. Just my two cents. Wanna ya think? Cheers.”
Well, my Sista, I’m glad you asked. Every entrepreneur knows that start-up financing for businesses comes first from friends, family and business associates. And for all the reasons that history has to offer, including the economic dependency that was forced upon Black folks worldwide — from Africa to the Caribbean to the Americas — our individual “affinity networks” have been inadequate to provide a level of entrepreneurial support that would help us develop an “infrastructure of self-sufficiency” which is the key to our community being competitive with other communities economically. You see the downside of this lack of competitiveness in all the economic numbers showing broad disparities in Black wealth, personal and business, as well as in the prevalence of Black states at the bottom of most worldwide indices of wellbeing. You also see the impact of this dearth of infrastructure in our inability to capitalize on our human capital — our best and brightest do not work for us, their accomplishments get absorbed into mainstream society, benefiting the mainstream business owners and communities from which they come. The individual wealth — intellectual and material — never makes it back to our communities because we don’t have an infrastructure with which to absorb and leverage this human capital.
Crowdfunding has the potential to allow us to turn our collective pennies into the investment dollars that our best and brightest need to innovate and create on our behalf in the first instance. And with the introduction of equity crowd funding, it will be possible for our “crowd” to potentially benefit from an idea turning into a product turning into a company. I’ve been in business for 20+ years and I’ve met very smart and enterprising Black folks that take our collective condition very personal; these folks spend good time, energy and money trying to develop pieces of this self-sufficiency infrastructure that we need to compete with others, and the only thing standing in their way much of the time is Black money. Because in my experience, it’s only other Black people that are also focused on improving our competitiveness as a community, that see the strategic value of these investments in infrastructure building.
As the crowd funding industry grows, there will be many portals parceling the market out in categories, and like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, both general market leaders, there will develop other category leaders. CulturalGrassroots.com is the most promising proposition targeting the segment of the Black market that sees power in the ability to ascribe value to the economy of our existence. The pitch is unique in that CulturalGrassroots.com will only exist if the crowd wants it too, and in it’s focus on infrastructure building through activity that gives us a competitive advantage, images and stories in particular.
Finally, at the end of the day, crowd funding, in most instances, isn’t a completely random “crowd”. Most projects succeed on the strength of the promoter’s network of business and kinship relations, why wouldn’t Black folks, one more category of similarly situated market forces, want to be the ones to benefit from these personal, community networks?
This is not a “separatist” movement. Change happens because smart people come together to make it happen. CulturalGrassroots.com is simply a way for like-minded people to come together to inspire our best and brightest to innovate and create on behalf of the world we want to see! To let them know that, “We Got Your Back”, that you don’t have to seek out “angels” from everywhere but your own community. That we are willing to “Pay the Cost To Be The Boss!”