Updated: Oct 7
August 17, 2020 – Women Founders Network (WFN) announces its “Woman Founder of Distinction Award,” the first-ever WFN female founder mentoring award exclusively created for and awarded to Black and Latina entrepreneurs.
As a result of the record number of Black and Latina female-founded businesses that applied for the annual WFN Fast Pitch this year, Women Founders Network decided to highlight and celebrate this diversity by creating a new category of achievement, with the goal of supporting and advancing underrepresented business owners, particularly Black and Latina founders. According to Project Diane, Black and Latinx women-led startups raised only 0.06% and 0.32%, respectively, of the $425 billion in total tech venture capital raised from 2009 to 2017, and in 2017 only 34 Black women and 58 Latinx women had raised more than $1 million in venture capital funding.
The WFN Board and Judges selected the following five up-and-coming businesses for the inaugural “WFN Woman Founder of Distinction Award 2020” based on the strength of their founder and their potential for growth and business scalability.
● Budget Better Inc., Carmen Perez, Founder and CEO
● Emblematic Group, Nonny de la Peña, PhD, Founder and CEO
● Kushae by BK Naturals, Kimba Williams, Co-Founder and CEO
● My Dental Wig, Lydie Livolsi, Founder and CEO
● Oya Femtech Apparel, Mitchella Gilbert, CEO
Going forward, this new award will be given annually to selected female Black and Latina founders of early stage startups. The WFN Woman Founder of Distinction Award includes a mentorship and financial advisement package (in-kind services valued at $15,000). In addition, the award finalists will receive scholarship to the Founders First CDC accelerator program, founded by Kim Folsom, whose mission to grow and fund diverse founder led small businesses. The award recipients will also have the opportunity to participate in a Fast Pitch event on November 11th, 2020, which will be hosted by Women Founders Network, in partnership with All Raise and Springboard enterprises.
“Women Founders Network was started to provide female founders access to capital, visibility, and mentorship,” says WFN Co-Founder and CEO Darya Allen-Attar. “The gender and racial disparities in business seriously concern us and we want to help change that. This year, 139 start-ups applied to the WFN Fast Pitch competition and we were pleased that 27 of them were from Black and Latina founders, nearly four times the number in 2019. We see this as the beginning of a positive trend and we will continue to do our part to mentor and raise visibility for these female founders. We are excited to create this award to recognize the movement for social equity by helping advance ambitious female founders who need it most.”
Allen-Attar adds, “Our judges selected the five companies for the inaugural WFN Woman Founder of Distinction Award based on the strength of the founder, and the high growth and scalability potential of their businesses. Our goal is to leverage the power of the WFN network and our resources to help these women grow and scale their businesses, and ultimately to increase the number of companies led by Black and Latina founders who achieve venture capital funding.”
WFN wishes to thank all of our Fast Pitch 2020 applicants, with special thanks to our Black and Latina founder companies listed below:
If you are interested in joining our roster of sponsors, please contact Patti Buhler, Administration, Women Founders Network, at email@example.com.
About Women Founders Network
Women Founders Network (WFN) connects women building high-growth businesses with the tools and resources they need to achieve business success. WFN has awarded and directly invested over $1.5 million in women-founded companies in the past six years, and alumni have gone on to raise over $100 million in funding. Visit us at www.womenfoundersnetwork.com.