Browse Tag

venture capital

3 mins read

HealthTech Platform Free From Market Secures $2.1 Million for Expansion

Free From Market (FFM), a digital platform that helps lower-income Americans with chronic health conditions access personalized diet-specific foods and support, has closed a seed investment round of $2.1 million.

The funding will be used to improve the platform’s technology and expand the service to provide affordable, accessible solutions for improving health outcomes. The funding round was led by Bluestein Ventures and supported by Acumen America, Beta Boom, KCRise Fund, 1st Course Capital, AssetBlue Ventures and Google for Startups Black Founders Fund.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in three Americans have a chronic health condition that can be managed through food. However, many Americans do not have access to the necessary resources and support.

Free From Market addresses this issue by offering bulk ordering for organizations and direct-to-door access for individuals to purchase diet-specific meals, produce and grocery items, along with telenutrition support. The platform also measures health outcomes for users with chronic conditions where food is the standard of care.

Free From Market
Emily Brown, Co-Founder and CEO of Free From Market

Emily Brown, Free From Market’s Co-Founder and CEO, is a recognized thought leader in the “food is medicine” space, serving on the NIAID National Advisory Council and the Children’s Hospital Association’s Next Generation of Quality Steering Committee. She is also a participant in the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health. Brown and co-founder Elise Bates created FFM with a mission to help all Americans manage their health through food, regardless of income or location.

FFM’s leadership team, which includes Chief Operating Officer Mark Jaffe, has extensive backgrounds in community health, food distribution, healthcare, technology, and nutrition. “Food has a powerful ability to heal our bodies, and we’re thrilled to support FFM as they build the future in the ‘food is medicine’ space,” said Andrew Bluestein, Managing Partner of Bluestein Ventures. Ed Frindt, Partner at KCRise, added, “This is an innovative model, and this is the type of disruptive tech company that will create real change in public health.”

“One in three Americans has a condition where food is part of the standard of care, yet many Americans do not have access to food and resources needed to treat it,” said Brown. “Our curated food is free from ingredients an individual does not want, and full of all the nutrients they need to manage a healthy life. This funding round is merely one milestone towards our goal to make a lasting impact to improve healthcare in this country and center health equity.”

by Tony O. Lawson

Interested in investing in Black founders? If so, please complete this brief form.

4 mins read

The Power of Content Marketing for Investment Firms

For investment firms like venture capital, private equity, and asset managers, content marketing is an essential aspect of modern marketing.

In order to attract and establish trust with potential startups, portfolio companies, and institutional investors, content marketing is crucial. These entities are essential to the success of investment firms as they help firms grow and manage their investments successfully.

Increasing deal flow

One of the primary benefits of content marketing for investment firms is attracting potential startups. By producing and sharing high-quality content that is relevant and valuable to startups, investment firms can position themselves as thought leaders in their respective fields.

This helps establish their brand and generate interest among startups who are looking for investment opportunities. Investment firms can use a variety of content formats, including blogs, videos, webinars, and infographics to showcase their expertise and provide startups with valuable insights and advice.

Supporting portfolio companies

Another benefit of content marketing for investment firms is building trust with portfolio companies. As investment firms work closely with portfolio companies, it’s crucial to maintain open and transparent communication to build strong relationships. Content marketing can help facilitate this communication by providing regular updates and insights into the investment firm’s strategies, goals, and progress. By sharing information that is relevant and valuable to portfolio companies, investment firms can build trust and establish themselves as reliable partners.

Attracting Institutional investors

Institutional investors are another critical target audience for investment firms, and content marketing can play a key role in attracting their interest. Institutional investors are looking for reliable and trustworthy investment opportunities, and content marketing can help investment firms demonstrate their expertise and establish themselves as credible partners. Investment firms can use content to showcase their investment strategies, performance records, and thought leadership in the industry. This helps build confidence and trust among institutional investors and encourages them to consider investing in the firm’s investment fund.

Strengthening online presence

In addition to attracting potential startups, portfolio companies, and institutional investors, content marketing also helps investment firms create a strong online presence. With the rise of digital marketing, investment firms need to have a strong online presence to reach their target audience and stand out from the competition. Content marketing provides investment firms with a platform to showcase their brand, expertise, and thought leadership, which helps establish their online presence and reach a wider audience.

Establishing thought leadership

Finally, content marketing is an effective way for investment firms to educate their target audience and demonstrate their expertise. By producing and sharing educational content, investment firms can help potential startups, portfolio companies, and institutional investors understand the complexities of the investment industry and make informed decisions. This helps investment firms establish themselves as trusted advisors and positions them as valuable resources for their target audience.

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4 mins read

Alternative Investments 101: An Overview of Real Estate, Private Equity, and More

Alternative investments are a popular way for investors to diversify their portfolios and potentially earn higher returns. These types of investments are not the typical stocks, bonds, and cash, but rather a range of other assets that offer the potential for higher returns and lower volatility.

Real Estate

Real estate is one of the most popular alternative investments and can take many forms, including residential properties, commercial properties, and real estate investment trusts (REITs). Investing in real estate allows investors to earn income through rent and capital appreciation. Furthermore, real estate can provide diversification benefits as it doesn’t always move in sync with the stock market.

Private Equity

Private equity funds invest in private companies, typically with the goal of taking the company public or selling it to another company. These investments can provide significant returns, but they also come with a higher level of risk. Private equity is only available to accredited investors and institutional investors.

Hedge Funds

Hedge funds use a variety of investment strategies to generate returns that are not closely correlated with the overall stock market. These strategies can include short selling, leverage, and derivatives. Hedge funds are only available to accredited investors and institutional investors, and they typically have higher investment minimums and management fees than traditional mutual funds.


Commodities are raw materials that are used in the production of goods and services. Investing in commodities can provide diversification benefits and the potential for higher returns. Commodities can be traded through futures contracts, commodity ETFs, and commodity-focused mutual funds.

Art, Collectibles

Investing in rare and valuable art, antiques, and other collectible items can be a great way to diversify a portfolio. The value of these items can appreciate over time and they can also provide enjoyment while they’re held. Investing in art, and collectibles can be difficult, as it requires knowledge and expertise to accurately value the items.

Venture Capital

Venture capital funds invest in start-ups or early-stage companies with high growth potential. These investments can provide significant returns, but they also come with a higher level of risk. Venture capital funds are typically only available to accredited investors and institutional investors.


Investing in infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, airports, and other public assets can provide a steady stream of income through tolls, fees, and rentals. Infrastructure investments also provide long-term growth potential as the economy grows and the infrastructure assets become more valuable.

Private Debt

Investing in loans made to companies or individuals, such as real estate loans or small business loans, can provide a steady stream of income through interest payments. Private debt investments can also provide diversification benefits as the returns are not closely tied to the stock market.

Alternative investments can provide diversification and the potential for higher returns. However, it’s important to note that they also come with a higher level of risk, and they may only be available to accredited investors and institutional investors. It’s also crucial to do your research and understand the investment before putting your money into it.

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4 mins read

Black-Owned Femtech Apparel Brand Oya Raises $1.3 Million

Black-owned femtech apparel brand Oya Femtech Apparel has recently announced that it has raised $1.3 million in an oversubscribed pre-seed round.

The round is led by the Sixers Innovation Lab, with additional investors including REI Path Ahead Ventures, R/GA Ventures, an SPV managed by Union Heritage Venture Partners and Techstars Sports.

Black-Owned Femtech
Mitchella Gilbert, CEO and co-founder of Oya Femtech apparel

Oya performance wear is engineered for feminine health and comfort using innovative fabrics and sweat absorption technology. The company’s leggings are twice as absorbent as leading brands, and the unique designs provide discrete natural ventilation, significantly improving over current options.

Intersecting science and style, Oya’s antimicrobial fabrics and patent-pending leggings are designed with doctors to combat the $43.3 billion that U.S. women spent last year dealing with feminine health issues. Common feminine health issues include urinary incontinence, bacterial vaginosis, and urinary tract infections. In fact, the CDC reports that 75% of women will struggle with yeast infections in their lifetimes.

Women athletes and performance wear enthusiasts may even be more prone to feminine health issues because of the hours they spend training in workout clothes that retain moisture and don’t allow the body to dry out.

Black-Owned Femtech

“As a collegiate female athlete, I found myself struggling with recurrent vaginal health hurdles and in the dark about why. Then, many years later, I discovered the leggings I had been wearing were the culprit. Unfortunately, most performance wear is made with spandex blends, which trap moisture and do not breathe. This is not good for women athletes who need ventilation and moisture control,” said Mitchella Gilbert, Co-founder, and CEO of Oya Femtech Apparel. “I took it upon myself to solve the issue by creating a line of performance wear designed with women’s health in mind.”

This funding round is a significant milestone for Oya Femtech Apparel and for Mitchella Gilbert as a Black woman founder. The statistics on funding for women and Black women in particular, are not favorable. According to a 2020 report by All Raise, only 2% of venture capital funding is allocated to women, and of that, roughly 0.05% goes to Black women. Investors Sophia and Nia from Union Heritage Venture Partners acknowledged this in a statement, saying “When we find underrepresented, passionate founders with great ideas, it is a privilege to invest in them and work alongside them”.

Black-Owned Femtech

Startups focused on women’s health have become a growing priority for investors since the term “femtech” was coined in 2016. Moreover, the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has increased momentum around developing innovative women’s healthcare products.

Oya Femtech Apparel was founded at the Venture Accelerator at UCLA Anderson by Mitchella (Mitch) Gilbert and Patrick Ayers. The company creates highly functional, quality athletic apparel designed to support feminine health. Oya leggings are the first of their kind to be physician-tested and athlete approved, with over 60 medical professionals and 200 product testers supporting product development. In an athletic apparel industry dominated by men, Oya advocates for a more inclusive approach to athletic wear and the recognition of the specific needs of women’s bodies.

Beyond fighting for women’s health, Oya is developing an ethical supply chain. The line is designed and primarily manufactured in Los Angeles. Oya’s fabrics are BPA, PFA, and PFO.

by Tony O. Lawson

Interested in investing in Black founders? If so, please complete this brief form.

1 min read

Eunice Ajim: Building a $10 Million VC Fund to Empower Africa’s Tech Startups

Eunice Ajim is the founder of Ajim Capital, an Austin, TX-based venture capital firm that provides pre-seed and seed funding to early-stage startups in Africa.

In this interview, Eunice discusses:

  • Her evolution from founder to venture capitalist
  • Her perspective on the growing popularity of startups in Africa
  • Differences in investment opportunities across various African nations
  • Her personal experience obtaining funding as a fund manager
  • The technology industries that she has a particular interest in
  • Mistakes she has made and the lessons she has learned as a fund manager
  • Suggestions she has for individuals aspiring to become fund managers.


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2 mins read

Ghanaian E-Logistics Platform Jetstream Raises $13 Million for Expansion

Rapid urbanization and economic growth in Africa have contributed to a rise in e-commerce activity.

Simultaneously, the lack of developed transportation infrastructure and logistics networks in many African countries poses a significant challenge for businesses attempting to move goods across the continent.

This creates a significant market opportunity for e-logistics platforms that can assist businesses in overcoming logistical challenges.

Ghanaian e-logistics platform, Jetstream was founded in 2018 by Miishe Addy and Solomon Torgbor with the goal of giving African businesses greater visibility and control over their global supply chains.

Following a successful $3 million seed round, the company announced today that it has raised $13 million in a Series A round of funding.

Initially, Jetstream provided two services: logistics for cargo owners handling imports and exports, and financing for freight forwarders. Recently, however, they have consolidated these two services into a single one, focusing exclusively on cargo owners. According to CEO Miishe Addy, the pivot helped Jetstream in achieving product-market fit.

Since adopting this new strategy, Jetstream has experienced significant growth. The company estimates that its trade finance product has disbursed approximately $9 million in loans to date, up from $1 million at the middle of 2021. By the end of 2023, it intends to increase this by five times.

Additionally, in the past year, the company’s revenue has grown by 48% and its active customer base by 102%. Currently, 47% of the freight handled by Jetstream is transported via air, 44% via ocean, and 9% via ground.

Twelve of the 29 countries where the company currently operates are in Africa. The funds will be used to support Jetstream’s expansion into new countries and its ongoing technological platform development.


by Tony O. Lawson

Interested in investing in Black founders? If so, please complete this brief form.

Are you a founder? If you are fundraising please complete this form.

3 mins read

Black Owned Electric Vehicle Charging Startup, SparkCharge Has Raised $30M

There are currently more electric vehicles on the road than ever before — with a record 6.6 million sold in 2021, double the previous year’s total.

However, a recent study found that concerns about the accessibility of nearby charging stations deter more people from buying electric vehicles.

This reluctance is frequently caused by “range anxiety,” the uneasy feeling that prospective buyers or current EV owners experience when they are concerned about having sufficient battery power to reach their destination.

SparkCharge is on a journey to change the way the world charges electric vehicles. Their charging-as-a-Service (CaaS) network, along with their mobile app Currently, enables EV owners to charge whenever and wherever they want.

“We are super excited to bring mobile charging and charging as a service (CaaS) to the next level.” shared Josh Aviv, SparkCharge CEO, and founder. “It’s exactly what is needed right now for America to catch up with electrification of transportation. Mobile charging is a necessity to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles. Being able to have your EV charged whenever and wherever you’d like takes away the time wasted at chargers and eliminates the worry of finding a charger that isn’t out of order. We’ve focused solely on making charging as easy as possible from building the portable charging hardware to mobilize charging, and the software to make it easy to access.”


With the click of a button, SparkCharge subscribers in 121 U.S. cities can arrange a charging appointment.

If you don’t want to subscribe monthly, you can still pay for a single one-time charge that will be delivered within 90 minutes, according to the business.

In both cases, a technician delivers mobile Roadie charging stations to your car, which may be parked anywhere—at home, at work, or just about anywhere else.

SparkCharge raised approximately $30 million from investors including Mark Cuban, Tale Venture Partners, and rapper, Pusha-T. Aviv pitched SparkCharge on ABC’s “Shark Tank” in 2020, where Cuban and Lori Greiner invested $1 million for a 10% equity stake in the company.

Aviv told CNBC that the investments currently value SparkCharge at approximately $110 million. He added that the company has already established partnerships with major brands such as Kia Motors, Hertz, and Uber, and is on track to generate $10 million in revenue in 2022.

by Tony O. Lawson

Interested in investing in Black founders? If so, please complete this brief form.

Are you a founder? If you are fundraising please complete this form.

6 mins read

Black Owned VC Firm Invests in an African American Owned Mining Company in Tanzania

Brown Venture Group is a Black owned VC firm and venture studio exclusively focused on Black, Latino, and Native American technology entrepreneurs.

The Minnesota-based firm provides technology founders of color with investment capital, training, and professional networks that assist in launching and scaling tech-based startups.

We caught up with Dr. Chris Brooks, co-founder and managing partner at Brown Venture Group.

brown venture group
Dr. Chris Brooks, Managing Partner at Brown Venture Group

Describe your path to becoming a venture capitalist. 

My path to VC was an extremely improbable one. At age 16 I was charged with 3 felonies, including attempted murder.

My career has been most heavily in the nonprofit and education sectors.  Two of my 3 degrees are Theology degrees. The thread woven throughout my life is a deep curiosity about and commitment to racial and economic justice.

These two things led me to co-found Brown Venture Group with Dr. Paul Campbell in 2018, and it is a perfect space for me to live out my passion and calling.

What are your thoughts on the state of today’s venture capital market? 

VC has been a gated community for most of its history.  Women and people of color have had little to no access to the industry, both as Executives of VC firms and as recipients of VC capital allocation.  

This remains true today, but things are changing.  Hundreds of new firms led by and focused on women and people of color have emerged over the last decade.  

It is inevitable that a subgroup of these firms/funds will have great financial success, and the industry will be changed forever.

Your firm recently partnered with the Africa Chamber of Digital Commerce (ACOFDC). What inspired the collaboration and what do you hope to accomplish?  

Africa has always had millions of remarkable entrepreneurs.  Due to the long-term impact of European colonization of Sovereign African Nations, access to capital for (Black) African entrepreneurs mirrors the trends in the USA  – it could be argued that it is exponentially worse on the African continent.  

Currently, over 90% of VC investment on the continent is allocated to white entrepreneurs.  Reflect on that.  The partnership between Brown Venture Group and the African Chamber of Digital Commerce has 3 goals:

  1. Accelerate technology investments on the African Continent and within the African Diaspora globally
  2. Strengthen the relationships between African leaders and African-American leaders
  3. Scale a global, interdependent, Black tech economy.

Imagine what it would look like to give access to transformational capital to African entrepreneurs at scale.  Imagine the results, both in terms of financial returns and in terms of global impact.  This is our shared inspiration: a world where Africans own Africa.

What spurred your firm’s interest in African investments? 

We understand that there are disproportionately great investment opportunities on the African Continent, in both existing technologies as well as emerging technologies. 

Our interest stems from the dual purpose of financial returns and (positive) impact.  We are just getting ourselves familiarized with the various nations and sectors. 

Eventually, it is our intention to increase our investment activity in African entrepreneurs and tech companies.

You recently invested in a mining company located in Tanzania. Tell us about the significance of that deal. 

Our first fund only invests in US-based companies.  Our investment in Pula Group, the only American mineral exploration company operating in Tanzania, represents our strong commitment to investing for both returns + impact. 

Pula Group aims to disrupt and redefine the African mining sector, which is currently dominated by extractive outside interests.  We share deep values and vision related to the future of Black ownership.

What advice do you have for other fund managers? 

It is critical to have a very well thought through investment thesis, as well as some concretized, deeply held core values.  These 2 components will guide you internally while they simultaneously send signals to investors and to the broader market about who you are and your intentions. 

Additionally, financial returns must always be prioritized above social impact.  Both matter, but leading a fund includes an inherent ethical mandate to produce financial returns for the fund’s investors (limited partners). 

Without those returns, the fund and/or the Firm is not sustainable long-term.

– Tony O. Lawson

Want to invest in Black founders? Please fill out this short form.



4 mins read

Include Ventures is Raising $250 Million To Invest in Black Funders and Founders

Include Ventures is a U.S. based venture capital firm that is raising a $125 million fund for Black and Brown-led fund managers and another $125 million for direct investments.

The firm’s leadership team includes Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson, Keith Spears, and Taj Eldridge.

Taj is a 25+ year investment professional whose career has included high-level executive roles in banking, asset management, alternative investments, and entrepreneurship.

We recently asked him to share some of his thoughts and insights as an investor.

Include ventures
Taj Eldridge, General Partner at Include Ventures

How would you describe the investment thesis and structure of Include Ventures?

Include Ventures is a dual fund – a fund of funds to invest in funds I, II, and IIIs led by people of color.

We also have a direct investment vehicle to co-invest in startups with funds in our ecosystem in the sectors of Fintech, Cleantech, Edtech, Media, and Digital health primarily in the series A stage.

We consider Include Ventures as a seeding platform because we have Include Global, an advisory platform for LPs and GPs, and VC Include, an ecosystem created to bring together LPs and GPs to expand their investment opportunities through diversity.

All are geared to impact alpha inclusion and sustainability.

include ventures
Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson, Founding Partner at Include Ventures

Describe your fund selection process. How do you decide which to invest in?

We have a fairly democratic process where we ask funds to upload their material on our site. Then we have a streamlined process to assess the limited number of investments we will move forward in our process.

We look to invest in the best-in-class funds and managers at the intersection of alpha inclusion and sustainability

You are quite outspoken when it comes to matters related to climate change. What sparked your passion for this space?

My illness sparked my focus on climate. I’m currently suffering from a kidney disease partially caused by environmental factors so I see climate as a public health issue.

I also see climate as an opportunity to build green wealth as we make this just transition so both are key to my excitement around communities of color coming to climate tech.

Keith Malcolm Spears, General Partner at Include ventures

What are some ways that you incorporate sustainability into your lifestyle?

One of the main ways I incorporate sustainability is through what I wear. As a former fashion executive, I see a number of brands focusing on sustainable processes to create apparel.

Are there any encouraging trends you’re noticing in the climate tech space? Is there anything you’re wary of?

Encouraging for me are firms that think about the way we use energy for our home like Blocpower as the pandemic has shifted our offices and thus our energy use.

I’m weary of the intersection of crypto/blockchain and energy mainly because it’s not a sector I’m well versed in. I think it’ll take time to mature.

What advice do you have for founders and for fund managers?

The only advice I have is to keep building impactful companies. America and people of color have a history of “funding a way or making one” and I get excited to see our American ingenuity.

Tony O. Lawson

Want to invest in Black founders? Please fill out this short form.


1 min read

$136M Agribusiness Fund Aims To Boost Food Security in Africa

Agribusiness is a term used to describe the enterprises involved in the production, processing, and distribution of food for consumer use.

In Africa, agribusiness is responsible for 70% of employment and about 25% of the continent’s GDP. Due to its enormous agricultural potential, the African agribusiness sector is expected to reach $1 trillion by 2030.

Zebu Investment Partners is a pan-African private equity fund with offices in Ghana and South Africa. It was established to build strong companies in the food value chain and improve food security in Africa.

Brian Frimpong, Managing Partner at Zebu Investments

In this interview with Brian Frimpong, Managing Partner at Zebu Investments, we discuss:

  • The reasons why his firm is focused on agribusiness investments
  • Current and emerging opportunities in the agribusiness sector
  • The ways technology is improving food security in Africa
  • Co-investing with funds based outside of Africa
  • The growing interest in Africa from African-American fund managers

Tony O. Lawson

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