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Northwestern Mutual’s Black Founder Accelerator® Program Celebrates Its Third Year

Furthering its commitment to championing diversity, equity and inclusion, Northwestern Mutual, in partnership with gener8tor, a nationally ranked startup accelerator, announced this year’s fall cohort of five Black-owned tech startups to its Black Founder Accelerator program.

Black tech startups

Research shows that Black founders receive less than two percent of venture capital. The program combats this substantial funding disparity for Black entrepreneurs. Each startup is eligible for a $100,000 investment and inclusion in a 12-week intensive program. The program offers access to individualized coaching and mentorship from industry-leading professionals. This is one of many core components of the company’s Sustained Action for Racial Equity (SARE) initiative. The initiative was created to advance bold, sustainable change that accelerates Northwestern Mutual’s commitment to fight racism, prejudice and social injustice with a focus on the Black and African American community.  

“As we witness the remarkable achievements of each cohort, we are reminded that programs like these are essential in fostering a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem,” said Abim Kolawole, chief audit executive at Northwestern Mutual and executive sponsor of the company’s SARE initiative. “We hope that the success of these founders will inspire future generations of Black entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams.”

The Black Founder Accelerator has enabled past participants to scale their businesses and enhance the diversity of the tech industry.

“This program’s success is an honest reflection of our company’s unwavering support to create a more diverse industry. We do this by helping Black founders propel their businesses forward,” said Craig Schedler, managing director of Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures. “We are confident this next cohort of entrepreneurs will use the program resources to become leaders in their sectors.”

Tech startups in Black Founder Accelerator

Participating startups reflect Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures’ key strategic areas of focus including fintech, insurtech, digital health and data analytics. The startups include:

Kingsley Ezeani: Co-founder and CEO |
CashEx (Boston) takes away the financial stress of immigrants during their migration journey. CashEx guides immigrants through building credit and establishing a U.S. bank account.

Kahlil Byrd: Founder and CEO |
Shur (New York) promotes economic freedom and generational wealth by helping student loan borrowers. Shur helps eliminate early mistakes, build financial plans and adopt an understanding of credit. The company also provides student loan repayment interruption insurance.

Matthew Parker: Founder and CEO |
ModernTax (San Francisco) simplifies underwriting. ModernTax provides companies with on-demand tax and financial information on their customers. This creates a better understanding of a company’s financial health.

Ashton Keys: Founder and CEO |
Athlytic (Detroit) bridges the gap between brands and student-athletes. Athlytic provides a seamless connection for name, image and likeness campaigns through the use of data-driven insights and expert recommendations. They pair brands with the perfect athletes for ROI-driven endorsement campaigns.

Jannae Gammage: Founder and CEO |
Foresignt (Kansas City, Mo.) leverages natural language processing and machine learning algorithms to assess credit risk, fraud and bias. This allows traditional banking services to safely open doors for underserved consumers and drive impact at scale.

In addition to the Black Founder Accelerator program, Northwestern Mutual also committed to a $100 million impact investing fund. It will deliver on the company’s commitment to addressing inequality and the racial wealth gap in the U.S. The fund focuses on three key areas: physical and social infrastructure, access to capital for individuals and businesses and healthy sustainable neighborhoods and communities.

About gener8tor 

gener8tor is a venture capital fund and startup accelerator that operates programs for startups, musicians, artists, investors and workers. The company ranked as one of the top 15 accelerators in the United States. The company prioritizes investing across race, place and gender. Fast Company named gener8tor one of the 10 Most Innovative Companies in 2020 and one of the Best Workplaces for Innovators in 2021. 

Northwestern Mutual Black Founder Accelerator 

The NMBFA is a joint collaboration between Northwestern Mutual and gener8tor. The goal is to advance Black tech startups based in the United States. The program is focused on fintech, insurtech, digital health and data analytics. gener8tor is the administrator of the 12-week accelerator that runs two cohorts of five Black-led tech startups a year. 

About Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual has been helping people and businesses achieve financial security for more than 165 years. Through a comprehensive planning approach, Northwestern Mutual combines the expertise of its financial professionals with a personalized digital experience and industry-leading products to help its clients plan for what’s most important. With more than $558 billion of total assets being managed across the company’s institutional portfolio as well as retail investment client portfolios, nearly $35 billion in revenues, and $2.2 trillion worth of life insurance protection in force, Northwestern Mutual delivers financial security to more than five million people with life, disability income and long-term care insurance, annuities and brokerage and advisory services. Northwestern Mutual ranked 111 on the 2023 FORTUNE 500.

Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM), Milwaukee, WI (life and disability insurance, annuities and life insurance with long-term care benefits) and its subsidiaries. Subsidiaries include Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS) (investment brokerage services), broker-dealer, registered investment adviser, member FINRA and SIPC; the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company® (NMWMC) (investment advisory and services), federal savings bank; and Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company (NLTC) (long-term care insurance). Not all Northwestern Mutual representatives are advisors. Only those representatives with “Advisor” in their title or who otherwise disclose their status as an advisor of NMWMC are credentialed as NMWMC representatives to provide investment advisory services.

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