BY Abu Mubarik, 4:02pm July 04, 2024,

After Fearless Fund was blocked from awarding grants to Black women, co-founder Ayana Parsons resigned

Ayana Parsons. Photo: Linkedin/Ayana Parsons

Ayana Parsons is the co-founder of Fearless Fund, a firm that provides venture capital financing, grants, and financial education to startups founded by Black women. Parsons and co-founder Arian Simone had a straightforward mission when they started the firm in 2019 — to provide support in areas overlooked by venture capitalists, according to Tech Crunch.

According to Crunchbase data, less than 1% of all VC dollars in 2023 went to black-founded startups, which amounts to around $661 million out of $136 billion. Since its founding, Fearless Fund has so far invested $26 million in over 40 companies, including Slutty Vegan, The Lip Bar, Partake Foods, and Live Tinted, Atlanta Daily World reported.

Last Monday, Parsons resigned from the leadership role at Fearless Fund. In a post on LinkedIn, she noted that she will no longer be its general partner and COO but will be off “enjoying island life” with her family. Simone, her co-founder, continues to serve as its CEO.

Her resignation came on the heels of a U.S. appeals court decision on June 3 that blocked Fearless Fund from providing funding to black businesswomen. The court action was instituted by a conservative group called the American Alliance for Equal Rights (AAER), according to Tech Crunch.

The group is challenging the fund’s right to provide $20,000 in small business grants to black women, claiming the program violates the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which bans the use of race in contracts, Tech Crunch reported.

Parsons maintained that the lawsuit against Fearless was not a reason for leaving, as she told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in an interview.

“As co-founder, Ayana is still an investor, and she has always had multiple ventures centered around inclusion, leadership and development, venture capital, and entrepreneurship. Fearless Fund is merely one avenue in her pursuit to be an advocate for the marginalized,” her spokesperson said.

What is more, she said in her LinkedIn post that she co-founded the firm “to help change the game for women of color entrepreneurs. And my rationale was simple: women of color are the most founded, yet the least funded. They are starting businesses at a faster rate than any other demographic yet lack access to the capital, resources, education, and networks needed to scale their businesses.”

She further added that she will not give up on her goal. “I remain steadfast in my support of and commitment to the advancement of women of color,” she said. She also has plans to publish a book as well.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: July 4, 2024

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