Funding Black founders to fuel global change
Across the globe, Black founders are solving the world’s toughest problems with technology — but they disproportionately lack access to the funding needed to scale. The Google for Startups Black Founders Fund provides cash awards — without giving up equity in return — and hands-on support to help Black entrepreneurs build and grow their businesses.
Established in 2020, the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund has awarded $16 million toward making a resounding impact to help Black-led startups secure funding, strengthen communities, and create generational change. Drawing from firsthand experience as Black founders, Google for Startups leads, Jewel Burks and André Barrence, ensured that in addition to cash awards, Black Founders Fund recipients receive ongoing Google mentorship and product support to help them navigate every stage of their startup journey.
Google for Startups
Google for Startups is on a mission to foster a global startup community that is inclusive, accessible, and equitable by connecting founders of all backgrounds to the best of Google.
Meet some of the 200+ Black Founders Fund recipients who are making an impact in their communities around the world.
Humanizing the hiring process by eliminating recruiter bias
Ariel Lopez, founder of Knac
As a tech recruiter, Ariel Lopez saw how implicit biases caused great talent from underrepresented backgrounds to be overlooked. On a mission to bring fairness to job searching, Ariel founded Knac , a digital recruiting platform that helps remove bias and increase diversity throughout the hiring process — and also ensure that candidates receive the feedback they need to grow and lead their best lives.
“Recruiters are still using antiquated processes. Lack of diversity and bad candidate experiences are the things we’re trying to fix as a result of that process. We help people not get ghosted.”
Prior to being selected as a Black Founders Fund recipient, Ariel participated in the 2017 Google for Startups Black Founders Exchange, hosted annually in partnership with North Carolina–based startup hub American Underground. To date, Knac has raised half a million dollars and is using the Black Founders Fund award to continue proving that there’s no such thing as a “pipeline problem.”
Simplifying complex legal processes to standardize access to justice
Vinícius Marques, founder of EasyJur
In 2016, Vinícius Marques and his family were evicted from their home due to a legal error made by the family’s lawyer. Determined to help others avoid the same heartbreak, he founded EasyJur which uses artificial intelligence to eliminate manual activities and reduce legal errors to make legal proceedings more efficient.
“I’ve suffered a lot of prejudice because I couldn’t be myself. I felt I needed to create my own business and make my own space. The Black Founders Fund gives a voice to many talented entrepreneurs who aren’t usually seen.”
Before receiving the Black Founders Fund award, Vinícius participated in the Google for Startups Accelerator program in Brazil, where he worked one-on-one with Google product experts to identify growth strategies. In just two years, EasyJur expanded to 100 employees and doubled its growth rate, making it one of the largest legal-focused tech startups in Brazil.
Creating safer Afro hair products while employing women in STEM
Rachael Corson & Joycelyn Mate, founders of Afrocenchix
Joycelyn and Rachael first bonded as university students in the UK over a mutual frustration with faulty Afro hair products. They were both wary of supposedly natural shampoos and oils that actually contained harmful chemicals.
“Joycelyn and I suffered from alopecia, hair breakage, eczema, and low confidence. Our endless quest to find the perfect healthy products finally ended when we decided to start creating our own.”
Determined to build something better, the cofounders started blogging about hair care and created award-winning hair and scalp oils. Following the success of their original products, Afrocenchix became the first Afro hair brand to launch in major UK-based supermarket and drugstore chains. Since receiving the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund award, Afrocenchix used support from Google.org Ad Grants to reach new customers through Google search ads. They’ve also grown their team of experts and raised $1.2 million in seed funding, working to give every person with Afro and curly hair access to safe, effective, natural products they can trust.
To create a more inclusive start-up ecosystem, Rachael Palmer, Head of VC and Startup Partnerships, EMEA, knows we all have to do more and support startups like Afrocenchix. “We have a chance to help build a more equitable future, where successful entrepreneurs come from all backgrounds and their communities can benefit from what they bring.”
Reshaping the educational landscape for students across Africa
Chukwuemeka Uche Onuora, founder of HITCH
Chukwuemeka Uche Onuora couldn’t find adequate educational support in Nigeria for his son, who is autistic. After facing challenges to access critical resources and therapy for his son, he used his over 15 years of educational technology experience to cofound HITCH and help all students access the educational content they need.
“We’re curating a plethora of content to help parents, teachers, and students. Currently, we’re partnering with one of the top educational publishers in Nigeria to develop curriculum based e-books for 500k students.”
HITCH is an educational technology platform that enhances the learning experience for students with relevant on-demand resources — all powered by machine learning. With the help from the Black Founders Fund, HITCH aims to enhance digital skills for 10,000 teachers and deliver rich educational content to 1 million African students.
Continuing the momentum for Black founders
“I am challenging everyone to think differently about the rules and systems they covet and who those rules and systems are keeping from opportunity.” - Jewel Burks, Head of Google for Startups, U.S.
In the U.S. alone, 78% of recipients reported that the Black Founders Fund award immediately helped grow their revenues, and 56% of recipients reported that their startup went on to raise additional funding after being awarded — amounting to more than $50 million in outside capital2. To date, the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund has awarded over 200 founders across the U.S., Europe, Brazil, and Africa — just one part of Google’s ongoing commitment to foster an inclusive global startup community.