Created as part of the greater movement for inclusivity amid the racial reckoning of 2020, Brown Girl Jane and SheaMoisture are continuing their grant program for Black beauty founders for a second year.
Announced on Wednesday, this year’s grant program is offering $150,000 to 12 Black female beauty founders along with business mentorship. Ten winners will be selected to receive $10,000, and two will receive $25,000. The initiative is part of SheaMoisture’s support for Brown Girl Jane’s #BrownGirlSwap campaign that launched last year, which asks consumers to swap five of their typical products for those from BIPOC-owned brands.
“Funding is an issue, so we knew we had to start there,” said Nia Jones, Brown Girl Jane’s co-founder and chief impact officer. With Black women receiving less than 1% of VC funding, offering grants is “part of the solution,” she said. “We also know that, with funding, particularly small businesses need some assistance networking. All of those mentorship pieces [are needed] in order to really leverage that grant.”
While there have been calls for more startup funding for Black women over the past year, they still only receive 0.34% of all U.S. venture capital, according to Crunchbase. In 2021, startups with at least one Black woman as a founder raised $494 million as of July, up from $484 million in total in 2018.
“There is great value in collaboration, mentorship
Winners will be chosen by Brown Girl Jane, SheaMoisture, and an online vote, and will be announced at the #BrownGirlSwap Black Beauty and Wellness Summit occurring October 14-16. “We didn’t want it to be just our decision,” said Jones. “We want to make sure that the community and customers have their say.”
Brands with revenue under $1 million are invited to apply. Applicants will be evaluated for innovation, community, social impact and value proposition. Last year, the grant program offered $250,000 to a total of 16 founders, choosing 10 winners to receive a grant for $20,000 and offering $5,000 to the remaining recipients. The 2020 program received over 1,000 entries in 2020.
For the mentorship portion, Brown Girl Jane is offering advice as a growing startup with $2 million in revenue and a recent launch in Nordstrom, with two additional retail launches planned. Several winners from the 2o2o grant have subsequently secured new retail partnerships. Makeup brand Range Beauty launched in Target, while skin-care brand Base Butter launched at Macy’s.
The #BrownGirlSwap campaign is also continuing, which is “more about changing a mindset where people can realize how easy it is to really shop diverse and buy brands that you maybe wouldn’t even know about,” said Jones.