This entrepreneur kickstarted her business with a $10K investment and became an instant success

Abu Mubarik May 31, 2023
Bell relied on a $10,000 investment from her mom’s retirement fund to help kickstart her career. Photo credit: natinfluence

Meet Shelly Omilade Bell, a serial entrepreneur and public speaker who is focused on empowering others, disrupting systems, and building inclusive communities. A computer scientist by training, Bell has gone from a K-12 educator to founder and CEO of Black Girl Ventures.

Her firm focuses on creating access to social capital and financial capital for Black and Brown woman-identifying founders, according to So far, her organization has funded 76 women and brought 170 founders through its pipeline.

Bell says she began her entrepreneurial journey when she built a teepee in her living room. According to her, she listed it on Airbnb for supplemental income and the response was surprisingly overwhelming. Later, she founded MsPrint USA, a women-run custom apparel and merchandise print shop with clients like Amazon and Google.

She also hosted poetry performances and led a community-based arts organization called Seven City Art Society, which evolved into Made By a Black Woman, a marketplace offering clothing, accessories, and home decor created and curated by women of color.

“In 2016, all of my experiences came together when I started a Meetup Group hosting crowdfunded pitch competitions,” she told “Very quickly, I grew it into a national organization called Black Girl Ventures. Black Girl Ventures creates access to social and financial capital for Black and Brown woman-identifying founders. One of the ways we do that is through our unique crowdfunded pitch competition, which can be described as a mix between Shark Tank and Kickstarter, but live.”

Bell relied on a $10,000 investment from her mom’s retirement fund to help kickstart her career journey in helping her make investments for other entrepreneurs, according to Black Enterprise. Since then, she has partnered with several individuals and organizations in this regard.

She recently partnered with Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition initiative to organize the Atlanta Pull Up & Pitch competition, which saw Anwuli Eyewear founder, Nwamaka Ngoddy, taking home the grand prize of $5,000.

In 2022, Black Girl Ventures formed a partnership with NBA to launch the BGV NextGen Program and funded the business plan of 25 students.

Additionally, TikTok recently announced that it was donating $1 million to BGV in recognition of National Small Business Week. “We are investing $1 million in Black Girl Ventures to support Black and Brown women and inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs,” the press statement said.

Last Edited by:Editor Updated: June 11, 2023


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