Synchrony commits $15m to early stage Black, Latinx and female venture capital funds
Synchrony, a consumer financial services company announced it will commit $15 million to venture capital funds led by Black, Latinx, and female investing partners. The first funds selected to receive money include Chingona Ventures, Seae Ventures, and Zeal Capital Partners – they support early stage startups across the fintech, healthcare, and future of work sectors.
Additional funds may be included at a later date. The move builds on Synchrony's commitment to support minority and women entrepreneurs and underrepresented communities, while also advancing Synchrony Ventures' direct investment strategy to accelerate growth and innovation for Synchrony, its partners, and consumers.
Trish Mosconi, EVP, Chief Strategy Officer and Corporate Development, Synchrony: "For too long, Black, Latinx, and female founders have been underrepresented in venture capital funding. Together we must take collective action to help close the venture funding gap and provide equal access to capital for diverse entrepreneurs and underserved communities."
According to Crunchbase, only three percent of investment funding is received by female founders, a statistic that has not changed in a decade. Since 2015, over $15 billion has been raised by Black and Latinx founders in the U.S., representing 2.4 percent of total U.S. venture capital raised during this time, per another Crunchbase study. Meanwhile, a Deloitte study shows 65% of investment firms reported having no female partners and 93% of firms reported having no Black partners in 2020.
Synchrony's ventures team, now led by Jeff Lamour, focuses on early-stage founders driving innovation in markets and sectors aligned with the company's growth strategy, mission and values. Lamour will continue to develop this strategy and promote equity in the investment community. Synchrony will collaborate with the funds to further support the growth and success of their portfolio, including investing additional growth capital to minority entrepreneurs focused on disrupting fintech, commerce and healthcare.
The initial three funds have investing strategies that align with Synchrony's business priorities and commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion. Synchrony's $15 million commitment will also include additional VC funds that will be selected later this year.
Chingona Ventures, which was founded by Samara Mejia Hernandez, focuses on technology around financial services, women, and food, as well as health and wellness, the future of learning and the future of work. Chingona Ventures is based in Chicago.
Samara Mejia Hernandez, Partner, Chingona Ventures: "With Chingona Ventures, I've made the commitment to find those entrepreneurs who may not fit the 'pattern recognition' inherent in the venture industry. Synchrony's support is vital to help overlooked tech founders realize their unique vision.''
Seae Ventures, a healthcare focused fund, was founded in 2019 by three partners – Tuoyo Louis, Jason Robart, and Peter Sally – with the goal of better balancing the needs of patients, providers, and payers by investing in diverse entrepreneurs with high growth potential. The founders saw a need for new thinking in healthcare to address the diversity of the population.
Jason Robart, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Seae Ventures: "While there have been significant advancements in healthcare over the last several decades, unfortunately there also has been a widening gap in health disparities among traditionally underserved and underrepresented populations. We are determined to do something about that and are excited to partner with Synchrony to fund women and BIPOC entrepreneurs who are committed to improving health outcomes for everyone."
Zeal Capital Partners, headquartered in Washington, DC, was founded by Nasir Qadree who believes more diverse companies need more inclusive sources of funding. He even trademarked the term "Inclusive Investing" to convey that these companies are baking diversity into every investing decision they make.
Nasir C. Qadree, Founder and Managing Partner, Zeal Capital Partners: "We fundamentally believe that while there is ample diverse talent with innovative solutions to social disparities, there is not ample opportunity to leverage that talent into scalable impact. By investing in dynamic, often-overlooked founders, our vision is to support founders in solving some of society's biggest challenges, like narrowing the skills gap and reducing wealth barriers for the marginalized. We look forward to working with Synchrony to help scale high-growth early-stage companies that will generate outsized returns while making an impact."
This announcement is part of a broader effort by Synchrony to support minority-owned small businesses. The Synchrony Foundation has committed $5 million to support funding of small business grants through community organizations, including the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) to provide emergency grants to minority- and women- owned businesses. In 2020, the company also signed the National Venture Capital Association's (NVCA) human capital pledge to advance a more diverse and inclusive venture ecosystem. And as a member of the National Minority Supplier Diversity Council, the company is identifying and using diverse suppliers whenever possible.