Updated September 7
VC Include, a California–based firm, gathered with its investors at the restaurant Atria in Edgartown on Thursday evening to celebrate the addition of Include Ventures, the firm’s investment arm. The firm was founded in 2018 to “accelerate investment into diverse emerging managers — women, Black, Latinx, Indigenous and LGBTQ — to drive economic growth and opportunity in the market.” The idea is to educate entrepreneurs and fund managers who are minorities, and develop generational wealth in those communities.
Former Georgia Congressman Kwanza Hall was also present. He is currently the firm’s head of government relations.
Bahyiah Yasmeen Robinson, founder of VC Include, said she wanted to host the event on Martha’s Vineyard. Robinson came to the Island often when she was younger, so it brings a nostalgic feeling to her. “Although I haven’t been here in 15 years, I wanted to return and engage with investors casually. It’s not about dealmaking here, it’s about relationship building,” said Robinson. “This is about sharing a vision of excellence and of increased support of Black and Brown communities, really globally, but through this incredible network of Black excellence that exists on the Vineyard.”
Robinson said a part of the reason her firm came about was because of her family. Her parents were academics, and did well for themselves, but they did not have access to resources or education from the finance industry to figure out how their money could work for them. This led her to form VC Include, to provide a boost to fund managers from marginalized communities. “Our thesis is that the massive innovation that exists in communities of color is not connected to capital. People sell things, sell ideas, et cetera, but there isn’t an institutionalized capital source for innovators and creators who can help their communities and build something that’s valuable,” said Robinson. “It’s really addressing the supply chain from top down.”
“Unfortunately, there’s $1.3 trillion out there, well, more actually, and only about 1 percent gets allocated to minorities and women,” said Keith Malcolm Spears, general partner of Include Ventures. “The idea is basically if we can do a good job investing in these folks, we can have more capital come to our communities and help have an impact … diversity drives alpha [ability to outperform the standard rate/returns].”
VC Include also has a nine-month fellowship program to educate entrepreneurs from minority communities. Yscaira Jimenz, an entrepreneur based in Boston, is taking part in the fellowship. She is currently the managing director at the Lab Fund, a Cambridge-based organization focused on advancing opportunities for entrepreneurs from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who are a part of underrepresented minority communities. The fellowship opened up as the Lab Fund idea took shape. “It’s a boot camp of sorts,” said Jimenez. “We were really lucky to be selected.”
Corrections from Olu & Company account manager Carrie Paveglio were added. Olu & Company is a public relations firm working with VCI.