7 black women founders ready to boost their business

17 Nov 2020

Image: © 123dartist/Stock.adobe.com

This month’s Boost Her Biz virtual summit will showcase black women entrepreneurs in an effort to increase their share of early-stage funding.

The Boost Her Biz global virtual summit takes place on 19 November, with an event focused primarily on black women founders, both as speakers and attendees.

Describing this as an untapped market for investors, the event addresses the fact that less than 1pc of venture capital funding typically goes to women of colour each year, with black women founders in particular seeing as little as 0.2pc of VC funding in 2016.

The event is spearheaded by Global Invest Her CEO Anne Ravanona, an Irishwoman whose goal it is to see 1m women entrepreneurs funded by 2030. In light of the recent widespread resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, Ravanona has devised this Boost Her Biz event to ensure that target is reached for a diverse spread of women founders.

Vivian Nwakah

One speaker at Boost Her Biz this week is Vivian Nwakah, founder and CEO of Medsaf.

Medsaf is described as a one-stop shop for healthcare stakeholders to purchase, manage and track medications in complicated supply chains. The main objective for the Nigerian company is to ensure access to safe medications in emerging markets, a goal inspired by Nwakah witnessing first-hand the dangers of fake medication in Nigeria.

For Nwakah, a first-generation Nigerian who grew up in the US, this is her second start-up venture. As of 2017, the company had more than 300 pharmacies and hospitals signed up to the platform.

Nwamaka Agbakoba


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Working in fashion and e-commerce, Nwamaka Agbakoba is founder and CEO of MKCurvy, an African-inspired fashion brand.

Inspired by childhood visits to markets in Ibadan, western Nigeria, Agbakoba wants to weave the colours and fabrics of African patterns into mainstream fashion. All pieces sold by MKCurvy are produced in Africa within a women-driven supply chain.

Born and raised in Nigeria, Agbakoba was educated in the US and now lives in Edmonton, Canada. From here she strives to represent African design in a global context, and in 2018 MKCurvy was named Best Fashion Designer at African Fashion Week Edmonton.

Nurra Barry

Described as a friend to both architects and the planet, Carbon Saver aims to tackle repetitive tasks in architectural drawing as well as the carbon footprint of construction. Led by founder and CEO Nurra Barry, the French company is building a SaaS solution that will assign a carbon indicator at the design stage, as well as automating some of the technical drawing.

Founded in February, this early-stage project is still in development but has already been certified by the French Ministry of Ecological Transition with a GreenTech Innovation label, attesting to the project’s innovation and growth potential.

Rose Horton

Rose Horton is co-founder of Antonia & Grace, a maternal health start-up based in the US.

Horton is executive director of women’s and infant health at Emory Decatur Hospital and has years of experience in maternity nursing. Over these years, however, the rate and trend of maternal morbidity became a huge concern of hers.

According to research presented by Horton, women in the US are more likely to die from childbirth or pregnancy-related causes than in any other high-income country, and black women die at a rate of three to four times that of white women. Horton believes standardisation of care and the use of evidence and data to drive decision-making in nursing care can help turn this stark trend around.

Dawn Dickson-Akpoghene

The latest venture from four-time founder Dawn Dickson-Akpoghene is PopCom, an Ohio-based start-up founded in 2017. PopCom is on a mission to improve the humble vending machine with an intelligent update.

PopCom’s software adds data and analytics to kiosks and vending machines using technology such as facial recognition, artificial intelligence and blockchain. With the motto ‘if it fits, it sells’, PopCom invites retailers with any product suitable to their machine bays to try out its digital pop-up shop system.

PopCom has already raised $2.3m through equity crowdfunding, and its latest round just opened last month.

Krissi Boakye

Based in the UK, Krissi Boakye is founder and CEO of AH Innovations, a tech consultancy firm taking steps to innovate in insurtech.

Still in development, AH Innovations is creating a digital medical certificate to connect medical records to travel insurance. The small company also provides IT consultancy to businesses of all sizes, advising on and delivering tech solutions.

In 2017, Boakye was a global nominee for that year’s NASA Space Apps Challenge, representing her internet-of-things-based idea to manage natural disasters using track and trace. She also participated in the New Blood Shift programme from D&AD, a non-profit advertising and design association.

Precious L Williams

One speaker many founders might like to take tips from is ‘killer pitch master’ Precious L Williams. The founder and CEO of Perfect Pitches by Precious, Williams teaches the art of the killer pitch to businesspeople, entrepreneurs and public speakers.

Williams honed her pitching craft raising money for her first company, a lingerie brand called Curvy Girlz, winning 13 of the 14 pitch competitions she entered. She is based in New York and her book, Bad Bitches and Power Pitches, targets her advice to women entrepreneurs and speakers specifically.

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Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.