Looking for Funding? SoGal's Second Annual Competition Is Now Accepting Applications

If you are a woman, a person of color or LGBTIA+ identified and are a part of a start-up company, this is the competition for you. The SoGal Global Pitch Competition is being hosted in over 25 cities and will culminate in a final contest in Silicon Valley as well as a "3-day immersive educational bootcamp." This could be an unprecedented opportunity for you, your business and for the future of entrepreneurial diversification.

We all know how important diversity is for the world and for any business entity. But the statistics need to catch up with these ideals, because diversity isn't just a moral imperative it can also have an impact on the success and efficiency of a business. So if the ethics isn't enough to get you interested, maybe these statistics will.

  • Companies in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity are 35% more likely to have above-average financial returns
  • Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have above-average financial returns
  • Bottom quartile companies (in both gender and racial diversity) are less likely to achieve even average returns
  • In senior executive teams in the US for every 10% increase in racial and ethnic diversity EBIT (earnings before interest and tax) rose 0.8%

Despite the fact that diversity is good for business, funding as a woman or a minority is incredibly challenging, but this competition could be someone's game-changing opportunity.

SoGal is a global education and empowerment platform focused on diverse investors and entrepreneurs. Their mission is "to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship and venture capital." A tall order, given that 2.2% of VC funding went to women in 2018. Compounding the gender gap with race shows an even poorer picture: in the past decade only 0.1% (yes, that is a decimal) of funding was allocated to black women.

It is a straight up fact that companies with higher levels of diversity perform better, so why is it so hard for diverse start-ups to get funded? Oh right, racism, sexism, homophobia, implicit biases, inequality, classism... the list goes on, but thankfully that's where SoGal comes in! According to Kelley Elizabeth Henry, director of SoGal, "We're done waiting for these statistics to change; we're taking action to point investment capital toward these diverse-led startups. [...] We will change the future of entrepreneurship."

To enter this competition all you have to do is be a part of a pre-Series A startup (raised less than $3M) and have at least one "woman or diverse" founder. After you apply to pitch, you'll have to be able to make it to one of the "regional round location," which range from the more typical options of New York and Los Angeles to global locations such as Nairobi or Bangalore. And, if you're really playing to win, you better earmark February 28 to March 1 of next year, because that's when the top teams will be in San Francisco duking it out to the very end. And by "duking it out," I mean participating in "curated educational programming," talking to press and getting "facetime in front of top-tier investors." Though not everyone can win, the experience in itself looks to be well-worth the time it takes to fill out an application form and huff it to the nearest large city for the first round.

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From One Single Parent To Another

When my husband announced that he was leaving when our child was only 18 months old, I was shocked, sad, ashamed, and (mostly) terrified. I had not been employed for two years and was not sure if I could feed my child, much less keep my house. This shame led me to believe that not only was it my fault (which my husband and his family would mention quite often), I also felt all alone, as if I were the only person that had this happen to her.

Instead of "baby on board," I felt like the sign on my car would say "single parent on board." To me, it seemed as if I was the only mom walking a stroller around the mall without a husband. Oh, and did I mention that by this point, my husband was already remarried and soon after, had a baby on the way? On my end, I had money problems, self-esteem problems, anger problems, and the "poor mevictim mode" was in full-swing. I am not even sure if I was able to look into my child's eyes at this time because I was too busy trying to survive.

Months later, as the pity party started to lift, I found myself wondering what do I want to teach my child about her dad leaving? This was probably my first sane moment.

Most single parents do not choose to be single parents; the job is usually thrust upon us. Therefore, we must choose the "job" of single parenting or we will not be very good at it. So, the first step we have to take is to stop looking over at your ex and his life and instead focus on laying the foundation of your new family and home life. In my case, after regaining that focus, I had to find a job and childcare right away, as well as prepare my child for preschool. My experience taught me that instead of worrying, I needed to switch gears and start doing something. This helps to walk through the fear one step at a time. As one seed takes root, strength and bravery can begin to grow.

I found courage through making my child and her needs my focus. I was shocked, because I had never done anything like this before. I was amazed at how resilient I had become, especially since I was "winging it" at this point. The best decision I made was the one to stop being in "victim mode" and choosing to step up to the plate and be a role model.

I was out with some single women one night and one of them, who I barely knew, blurted out "Who is going to want you with a young child?" I turned to her, glaring, and said, "Oh no, who is going to be lucky enough to be with me and my child?"

My confidence grew stronger in all the conscious decisions I had to make for myself and my child. I started having a life of my own. I was smart enough to not over-expose my child to people I dated. I also made sure to only date when my child was at her father's house. We had a joyous and stable home environment without people coming in and out of our lives at this time. My daughter lovingly calls those years as some of our best (she is now 30).

Some higher power had to be watching over me, because I started this journey totally clueless! For instance, I desperately needed a job. Back when I was in my master's program, I was working out of a boiler room selling insurance. It was with this experience that I offered to volunteer my time to help a non-profit do some fundraising. Thankfully, I was eventually offered a paid position there, which included a good salary and childcare. It was a miracle! When I was let go a year and a half later, it led me to take another leap of faith and start up my private practice (which is still thriving after over 30 years!).

Along the way, I've learned a few things.

  1. Try not to feel sorry for yourself, because your child will feel that and start feel sorry for themselves as well. This might be when you and your family want to seek professional help to prevent the pity party from taking over your lives.
  2. You need to be an authority figure with rules and consequences that are used consistently. If at all possible, create a co-parent plan with your ex-spouse so there can be consistency in both homes.
  3. Remember, you are your child's stability and safety. Self-care is mandatory. My daughter approached me around age 11 and asked, "Mom do you know what the best gift was that you've ever given to me?" I thought she was going to say it was her beloved Barbie dream house. Instead, my daughter responded with, "You, Mom, loving yourself."

My daughter and I, both therapists, have combined our personal and professional know how to write our new book. My Parents Are Getting a Divorce . . . I Wonder What Will Happen to Me is an interactive discussion book to provide a bridge of understanding between parents and their children. Our book creates a safe space for children to share their innermost thoughts and feelings, while also teaching healthy coping skills for children to empower themselves during a chaotic and confusing time in their lives. The goal is to take children out of the middle and provide them with a voice as well as the tools that will allow them to grow into healthy, balanced individuals.