How are Black & Latina Women Investors Breaking into VC?

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See how 204 Black & Latina women broke barriers entering the industry

Breaking into venture capital is notoriously difficult, a foot in the door requires a precarious combination of experience, connections, and timing. But the odds are especially stacked against diverse women. Despite these odds, they’ve gone on to establish their own funds and create opportunities for others. 

The 2021 Black & Latina Women in VC report analyzes the professional & educational backgrounds of 108 Black and 96 Latina women in the U.S. VC ecosystem in investment roles. We identify themes and patterns to learn how they’re breaking into and thriving in venture capital roles.

At Harlem Capital, we are proud coworkers, co-investors, and collaborators with these women, many of whom have begun their journey with us. Notably, 7 of the 204 diverse women investors have gone through the HCP intern program – that’s 3.4% of all diverse women in VC. We’re excited to celebrate their success as they pioneer pathways for many others. 

Methodology

Our data comes from Harlem Capital’s proprietary database alongside databases from Women in VC, LatinxVC, BLCK VC, & VCFamilia. For the scope of this report, we define ‘diverse’ as Black and Latina women and capture institutional investors in the pre-seed, seed, and Series A-D market. 

What positions do diverse women investors hold? 

We found that representation of diverse women in VC is top-heavy; 55% have Partner title roles while Principal, Associate, and Analyst roles make up the other 45%. Among these, 28% were the founding partners in their respective firms and tended to lateral from other industries into VC rather than begin from entry-level analyst or associate positions. 

Where are diverse women located? 

50% of diverse women investors reside in NYC or SF, while the other 50% reside across various cities, mostly on U.S. coasts. Outside of NYC & SF, diverse women reside in various cities. Notably, ATL has a significantly higher concentration of Black women VCs, and MIA has a significantly higher concentration of Latina women VCs.

How long have diverse women investors been in VC? 

15% of Black & Latina women have spent more than a decade in VC; however, most diverse women have spent <5 years in the industry. Over recent years, there has been a decline in Black & Latina women entering the VC ecosystem. There was a surge of diverse women breaking in pre-pandemic in 2019, with 36 gaining investment positions that year. Collectively, Black women have ~450 years of experience and Latina women have ~399 years of experience in venture capital. 

What educational qualifications do diverse women investors hold? 

Most Black & Latina women who break into VC hold advanced degrees, with 64% of Black women & 56% of Latina women holding advanced degrees including Masters, MBAs, JDs, or PhDs. Notably, ~1/3 attended the same top higher education institutions.

What investment stages do diverse women focus on? 

Black women are more focused on earlier-stage investments (pre-seed/seed), while Latina women are more focused on the growth & later-stage investments (Series A-C+). Black & Latina women are strategically backing diverse founders, with 44% indicating a personal or fund-wide diversity investment focus. Diverse investors back diverse founders to create more opportunity.

Conclusion:

Check out the full report and dataset here. We’re proud to highlight the 204 trailblazers who have broken into VC, paving their own unique paths. Though we celebrate, we recognize that Black & Latina women still make up a very small percentage of the overall venture capital industry. We hope that this report encourages more women to enter the industry and pushes firms to hire more diverse women on their teams. This report is just the beginning, we’re excited to continue mapping the journeys of these incredible investors.

If you know of other Black or Latina women in the U.S. VC ecosystem in investment roles that we missed, please submit them here so we can continue to keep this list updated. 

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Thanks to our intern, Soumya Tejam, for putting this report together. Find her on Linkedin.

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