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Money News Briefs

1863 Ventures Addresses Shortfall of Capital for Black and Brown Entrepreneurs

1863 Fund is 1863 Ventures’ multi-sector investing strategy for New Majority entrepreneurs (i.e., business owners who have been historically marginalized).

Established in 2020, the 1863 Fund provides capital to 13 Black, Brown and women-owned businesses, with more than $2 million in non-predatory financing to accelerate entrepreneurs from high potential to high growth and to reduce barriers for these founders across the nation.

“Our thesis is that entrepreneurship is becoming an increasingly viable pathway for the New Majority to build wealth,” says Melissa Bradley, Founder and Managing Partner of 1863 Ventures. “It’s a quarter-million dollars more for a Black founder to create the same business as their white peers. Based on structural racism and generations of economic deprivation—with all the challenges marginalized people continue to endure—it is unrealistic to expect a New Majority company to have the same trajectory and growth as their white counterparts.”

The 1863 Fund

The 1863 Fund is dedicated to improving the state of innovation and entrepreneurship New Majority founders and ecosystem builders alike. This will be accomplished by stimulating member companies via equity investments or alternative, revenue-based financing models. Nationwide, the fund invests strategic capital across industries, including fintech, software, hair care and beauty supply, healthcare, and baked goods. The challenges of coronavirus will persist. It is crucial for portfolio companies to remain nimble and adapt to evolving markets. Amid the volatile business environment, the 1863 Fund has provided much-needed cash flow to increase the survivability of portfolio companies and maintain their profitability.

“1863’s investment has allowed me to stay afloat during these tumultuous times,” says Ashley Marie Rouse, Founder of the culinary-inspired and vegan Trade Street Jam Co. Her company is set to produce 4,600 gallons of jam this year and to grow to $1 million in revenue. “We have a product-based business, and we cannot make money without product! The investment enabled us to secure raw materials. We would not traditionally be able to afford these materials at a higher cost.”

Portfolio company founders have leveraged the network and counsel of an experienced 1863 Ventures team. Jean Brownhill is reinventing home remodeling contracts with Sweeten and recently secured new investors, thanks to Melissa Bradley’s cultivated institutional relationships.


In review of the 1863 Fund investments, portfolio companies are accelerating operations with increased product inventory, additional seed funding from other investors, administrative and infrastructural improvements, expanded workforce and larger advertising budgets:

  • Lillii RNB Inc., a retail fraud detection, prevention, and data services firm, closed $3 million in seed funding.
  • Tech startup and career development program, The Mentor Method, raised $1.6 million in venture funding. Onboarded clients like Amazon and the Department of Education, doubled revenue in one year. This allowed them to scale their team from two staff members to 11 in seven months.
  • Vegan bakery Keeping You Sweet hired four additional employees and increased its sales up 129 percent. They increased their return customer rate by 75 percent, and e-commerce store conversion up 171 percent.
  • Moisture Love, a producer of natural hair care products, increased its website conversion rate by 16 percent. Customer acquisition costs fell by 74 percent.
  • Naasakle International produces business lines including Eu’Genia Shea, a 100 percent all-natural shea butter and skincare brand. Naasakle announced a new partnership with QVC, increased its door count with Target and confirmed launch with another major retailer.
  • Brown Toy Box is a full-scale educational toy company producing and curating STEAM toys, media and experiences for Black children. They recently launched in-store and online at Target.
  • Sweeten connects prospective home renovators with quality construction labor to take advantage of competitive bids and fair estimates. They’ve increased its awarded projects year-over-year in Chicago (337 percent), Philadelphia (125 percent) and Los Angeles (80 percent).

About 1863 Ventures

1863 Ventures is the #1 national business development nonprofit and venture capital accelerator for New Majority Entrepreneurs and historically marginalized individuals. The D.C.-based organization supports over 1,500 founders across the United States through curated curriculum and grant support. 1863 Ventures also funds 13 portfolio companies, investing more than $2 million in strategic capital across fintech, software, hair care, and beauty supply, healthcare, and baked goods sectors. Learn more at

1863 Ventures is proud to invest in early-stage businesses and entrepreneurs to achieve scale and generational wealth. 1863 Fund is a component of 1863 Ventures’ business development initiatives to generate $100 billion in wealth by and for the New Majority by 2030.

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