A coalition from Utah’s tech and business community has joined forces to provide financial assistance and mentoring for businesses led by African-American women. New Pattern Utah is a collaborative effort of women-in-business advocacy group Womenpreneurs, early-stage tech startup fund Beta Boom, the Utah Black Chamber and the Sorenson Impact Center of the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.

“Despite the fact that black women are starting businesses faster than any other demographic, they are met with the greatest barriers to accessing funds and receive less than 1 percent of venture capital funding each year,” New Pattern Utah said in a press release. The group said it is forming to combat this disparity.

The New Pattern movement, which launched two years ago, promotes and celebrates founders from diverse backgrounds in order to change the homogenous business narratives which have dominated the mainstream, the local group said. Among the many benefits of a more racially diverse business environment, the initiative emphasizes that companies who serve more heterogeneous audiences provide greater opportunities for economic growth and investment. New Pattern Utah follows this same philosophy and seeks to open new doors for local black business owners.

“Due to centuries of systemic oppression and discrimination, further exacerbated by Utah’s persistent wage gap, black communities in Utah have not had the same opportunities to generate wealth as other racial groups, making it extremely challenging for many early-stage founders to secure the initial capital required to get their businesses off the ground,” said Rose Maizner, co-founder of Womenpreneurs. “While the New Pattern Utah grant will not solve the systemic issues that still need to be addressed, the initiative is one small step in our commitment to continue supporting black female founders.”

New Pattern Utah, seeded by the Community Foundation of Utah’s Social Investors Forum, provides both immediate capital as well as ongoing holistic support designed to ensure more equitable access to the larger fundraising environment. The program leverages the skills, networks and expertise of the four founding organizations, which organizers say have more than 20 years of combined experience in addressing disparities in entrepreneurship.

Recipients can expect a full suite of support, including critical capital with up to $10,000 in non-dilutive funding as well as mentorship to support the strategic use of the capital; structured programming with an eight-week intensive fundraising course provided by Womenpreneurs’ The Raise program and a six-month peer-based leadership development course through the organization’s Circles program; and holistic support on fundraising, marketing and product through Beta Boom. Recipients will also have access to legal support, assistance with business certifications and other trainings through the Utah Black Chamber and access to networking opportunities through the various sponsoring organizations.

“This grant goes beyond providing capital alone by leveraging the programs and human resources that each of the founding organizations brings,” said Kimmy Paluch, founder of Beta Boom. “Research shows that the correlation between these kinds of catalytic resources are much stronger than just monetary distributions alone, and we’re thrilled to bring these to bear for the black, female-owned businesses here in Utah.” 

The application process has begun and applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Eligible companies must have been incorporated in Utah by Jan.15, 2020, and have at least one black female founder over the age of 18. All applications will be evaluated and reviewed by a steering committee made up of business and civic leaders within the Utah community. The initial grant recipients will be announced within six to eight weeks. Women who are interested in applying should submit an application at https://newpattern.org/apply.

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