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Northwestern Mutual launches $20 million Black business effort

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Financial firm Northwestern Mutual has announced new initiatives totaling $20 million in investments that will support Black startup founders nationally and locally in its headquarters of Milwaukee.

The company’s venture capital fund, Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, will dedicate $20 million to investing in startup companies founded by Black entrepreneurs, according to a press release. The company will also launch the Northwestern Mutual Black Founder Accelerator powered by gener8tor, a nationally ranked startup accelerator.

Black founders receive less than one percent of venture capital funding annually. “Northwestern Mutual and gener8tor are committed to investing in and supporting Black entrepreneurs to help close this funding gap and advance their companies,” the press release reads.

“At Northwestern Mutual we’re dedicated to supporting and promoting diversity not just within our company, but within our communities and the businesses we partner with nationwide,” Northwestern Mutual chief product and innovation officer said John Grogan said in a statement. “Allocating $20 million is only the beginning – we will continue to invest in and provide opportunities for Black founders and are committed to providing access to capital and resources to help them grow their businesses.”

Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures is focused on advancing the company’s investment strategy of engaging startups whose technologies have the potential to transform how people experience financial security. The investment criteria for the $20 million Black founder funding allocation is aligned with Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures’ key strategic areas of focus:

  • Building for consumers’ changing financial preferences
  • Reimagining the client experience
  • The digital health revolution
  • Transformational analytics and technologies

“Innovative thinking is required to drive breakthrough solutions to close the racial equity gap, and by supporting Black founders through Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures and the new accelerator program in partnership with gener8tor, we can make a difference to close this funding gap,” Northwestern Mutual vice president, digital innovation Abim Kolawole said in a statement. “Our company’s Sustained Action for Racial Equity task force, which launched earlier this year, is looking at racism and inequality from every perspective. These initiatives will drive change and create impact within our company and communities.”

The Northwestern Mutual Black Founder Accelerator powered by gener8tor is gener8tor’s first accelerator exclusively focused on advancing Black founders. The 12-week accelerator will run up to two cohorts of five companies a year and startups must be aligned to Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures’ investment areas of focus. The first cohort will begin in early 2021.