NJEDA approves 3 firms for first-in-nation, $20M Black and Latino Seed Fund

Three firms were selected by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority board on Wednesday to manage the $20 million Black and Latino Seed Fund.

Conscious Venture Partners LLC, Red Bike Capital LLC and Tale Venture Partners LLC will each manage portions of the fund, the only one of its kind across the country, aimed to increase capital access for early-stage innovative companies founded by diverse entrepreneurs throughout the state.

The capital for the Black and Latino Seed Fund was appropriated through the 2021 and 2022 state budget bills that Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law.

The three fund managers will be responsible for raising, or contribute to the raising of, private capital, managing the fund’s day-to-day operations and developing and maintaining a pipeline of prospective, New Jersey-based small businesses that can benefit from the fund.

The venture capital firms, based in Maryland, New York and California, have each committed to open a New Jersey office or accelerator to align with the fund commitment. Additionally, the firms have committed to regularly engage the market at events and networking opportunities, including the NJEDA’s biannual Founders & Funders event.

The NJEDA issued Notices of Investment Opportunities seeking experienced investment managers for the Black and Latino Seed Fund in February.

“New Jersey is committed to creating an environment where all entrepreneurs, regardless of race or background, have the same opportunities and access to resources needed to succeed,” Murphy said. “This fund will unlock capital in Black and Latino communities and diversify our state’s innovation economy — breaking down barriers that have plagued these communities for far too long.”

“As we work to cement our role as a national leader in innovation, and build a stronger and fairer New Jersey, we must ensure minority entrepreneurs have equitable access to participate in our economy,” NJEDA CEO Tim Sullivan said. “Less than 2% of all venture capital dollars invested in America go to founders of color, and less than 1% to women of color. Under Gov. Murphy’s leadership, New Jersey has been at the forefront of providing Black and Latino business owners the tools, resources and capital needed to run a successful business. By ensuring equitable access to our economy, it will help attract new businesses to our state, keep thriving businesses open, and spur economic growth.”

Conscious Venture Partners, based in Baltimore, will manage up to $7.5 million of the fund. California-based Tale Venture Partners also will manage up to $7.5 million of the fund. Tale Venture Partners has committed to relocating its headquarters to New Jersey. Lastly, Red Bike Capital, a Latino- and woman-led early-stage fund, will manage up to $5 million of the Black and Latino Fund. Red Bike Capital has committed to opening an office in New Jersey.

“Ensuring Black and Latino business owners have equitable access to capital will transform neighborhoods and boost our state economy,” Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver said. “I am proud that Gov. Murphy, throughout his tenure, has invested financial resources into communities that have historically been left out. This fund will give entrepreneurs of color the fair opportunity they deserve to succeed.”

“The NJEDA is working to remove systemic obstacles that far too many Black and Latino business owners face when trying to get their businesses off the ground,” NJEDA Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Michelle Bodden stated. “The seed fund we are launching will strengthen Black and Latino businesses owners, their families and their communities — creating a stronger, fairer economic future for generations to come.”

“New Jersey is making smart investments into our early-stage companies, particularly in minority-owned businesses,” NJEDA Chief Economic Transformation Officer Kathleen Coviello said. “By investing in strategic sectors, New Jersey is supporting the growth of our diverse business community and our innovation industry, while strengthening our economy.”