As other contributors to this series have pointed out, the US economy is deeply inequitable. The median household wealth for black and Latinx families is 12 times less than white households.

The Surdna Foundation, one of the oldest family foundations in the United States, is committed to addressing these inequities and building a more inclusive economy for future generations. Our mission is to foster communities guided by principles of social justice, and distinguished by healthy environments, inclusive economies, and thriving cultures. We work to fulfill this mission through a variety of approaches.

In 2018, we reasserted our commitment to social justice by refining our focus and centering on racial justice—a shift based on our belief that the most effective way to build a more just society is to address historical and structural racial inequities.

As part of this shift, we are targeting three outcomes through all of the foundation’s efforts, including impact investing, grantmaking, and other initiatives:

  • Building wealth among communities of color,
  • Building accountability by supporting the capacity of community-based organizations to hold policymakers and institutions accountable to the goal of equitable investments and benefits in communities of color,
  • Increasing democratic participation by strengthening the power and expertise of often overlooked communities of color to shape decisions that impact their lives.

Surdna also supports entrepreneurs of color, because such efforts are essential to building an inclusive economy in which people of color can fulfill their potential as leaders, creators, and innovators across sectors. Entrepreneurs drive job and wealth creation, and are the key to creating the next generation of businesses that will power our economy.

Yet while the number of minority-owned businesses increases annually, they continue to see a decline in access to capital. This is due to actual risks associated with investing in small and startup businesses that may make investors wary, as well as to perceived risks based on implicit biases and racism that underestimate the viability of minority-owned businesses. We therefore use our grants to build ecosystems in which entrepreneurs of color operate, providing access to capital, and trainings and resources needed to build successful businesses. And we direct our impact investment capital to invest in fund managers who, in turn, invest in minority-owned businesses.

Surdna has set out to use impact investing as a new way of meeting the needs of entrepreneurs of color who are often overlooked by traditional investors due to actual or perceived risk. We expect to meet with both success and failure in the coming years, but believe that ultimately, by embracing risk, we’ll prove the reward in these investments and thus attract more mainstream capital to support entrepreneurs of color.

Read the full article about supporting entrepreneurs of color by Don Chen & Shuaib Siddiqui at Stanford Social Innovation Review.