27 September 2023 – Sage, the leader in accounting, financial, HR, and payroll technology for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), in collaboration with The BOSS Network, today released a report titled Voices of Strength: Pathways to Success for Black Women Founders. The report identifies the most prominent challenges facing Black women founders in Atlanta, including a lack of access to funding through grants and government resources, mentorship, and the ability to digitally scale their businesses for growth. Findings were from a joint study with insights from 40 Black women entrepreneurs, all founders of small businesses within the metro Atlanta area.
Access to capital, digitalisation, and mentorship as biggest challenges
Despite Black women being the fastest-growing community of successful entrepreneurs in the U.S., with a growth rate of over 18% since 2017, only five percent of the surveyed founders have been able to secure funding through business loans or venture capital funds. Additionally, only 20% were familiar with the process to apply for and receive funding through government grants. While access to capital remains a key barrier for growth among this group, there is also a large gap in mentorship and training in the intricacies of social media algorithms to garner a return on investment from social media efforts.
Although the report found that challenges among Black founders heavily impacted success, results also demonstrated the resiliency and enthusiasm among founders. Of those surveyed, 88% were optimistic about the future of their business, driven by confidence and their personal and community passions to improve the lives of others and deliver an impact greater than themselves.
“It’s through important partnerships with companies like Sage that we are able to effectively shine a light on the struggles that Black women founders face in an exponential way,” said Dr. Cameka Smith, founder of The BOSS Network. “We hope this report will inspire businesses and corporations in Atlanta and beyond to take meaningful action in support of Black women business owners to achieve success for the betterment of our economic development.”
To address the challenge of lack of capital and drive immediate change among Black founders in Atlanta, Sage and the BOSS Network launched the Invest in Progress programme in 2022. This research is essential to extending our work to ensure continued support of Black women founders. It is dedicated to fostering a pipeline of funding, mentorship, and access to Sage technologies to help founders grow and scale their businesses. Sage has committed to providing $1.5m in funds through the grant program to support and drive the resilience and passion within this group of dynamic women.
In addition, Sage and The BOSS Network are announcing a new partnership with Swoop, a prominent global fintech company specialising in funding solutions. This collaborative endeavor, made possible through the Sage Foundation, is designed to further empower this community of entrepreneurs, in direct response to the insights uncovered in the Voices of Strength report. It will encompass personalised financial training programs and enhanced access to capital resources. Through this strategic alliance, the organisations will offer:
- Up to 150 women entrepreneurs in Atlanta will be provided a three-year membership to The BOSS Network and one year of training access for up to 150 Atlanta women founders (including the commission) giving them access to The BOSS Network, resources, support, and events.
- Seven+ grants from the Invest in Progress program to go to founders in Atlanta (valued at up to $70k).
- Custom trainings through BOSS Business University, Sage, and Swoop for the Atlanta cohort of Invest in Progress recipients in response to the themes identified in the report, including finance training and resources for access to capital.
Sage’s grassroots impact in Atlanta
"We serve millions of SMBs around the world, so we understand the impact they can have on the economy by creating jobs and prosperity within their wider communities,” said Steve Hare, Sage CEO.
“As the fastest growing business community in the U.S., we know that Black women entrepreneurs have great potential to make a huge difference. So, we wanted to understand more about the challenges that are getting in their way, and what businesses and government can do to help.
“The insights from our new report with BOSS clearly indicate that the priorities must be providing faster, easier access to capital and helping them unlock the benefits of digital technology. Similarly, our new relationships with Swoop, as well as with Morehouse College, will provide more access to professional spaces, social sustainability, and growth opportunities for founders. We remain dedicated to diversity, equity, and inclusion, a journey we are resolutely undertaking."
Through this partnership, Sage and The BOSS Network are inspiring the Atlanta community to not only think about but also to act on the critical importance of investing in and supporting Black women founders. Atlanta’s economic growth is intertwined with the success of Black entrepreneurs, leading to innovation and unprecedented prosperity in the city and beyond. This shared effort reaffirms Sage’s dedication to the vibrant city of Atlanta, its local communities, and the flourishing regional economy.
Download the full report and watch the video via Sage's Digital Newsroom.
Sage exists to knock down barriers so everyone can thrive, starting with the millions of small- and mid-sized businesses served by us, our partners, and accountants. Customers trust our finance, HR, and payroll software to help business flow. By digitising business processes and relationships with customers, suppliers, employees, banks and governments, our digital network connects SMBs, removing friction and delivering insights. Knocking down barriers also means we use our time, technology, and experience to tackle digital inequality, economic inequality, and the climate crisis. Learn more at Sage.com.
About The BOSS Network
Founded by Dr. Cameka Smith, BOSS™ is an acronym for "Bringing Out Successful Sisters," and the network’s mission is to promote and encourage the small business spirit and career development of women. The BOSS Network is an online community of professional and entrepreneurial women who support each other through conversation, online, and event-based networking. To find out more about The BOSS Network, please visit www.TheBOSSNetwork.org. The BOSS Network was named as a Forbes Top 10 Career and Entrepreneurial website for Women. More than 200,000 active women members throughout the United States are engaged through our social and digital programming. The BOSS Network’s latest initiative is the BOSS Impact Fund, with a focus on grant funding for 500+ Black women entrepreneurs, over the next three years. In addition, each grant recipient will have a 1-year scholarship to our BOSS Business University, a digital mentorship program that will provide a comprehensive entrepreneurship curriculum, to assist in long-term business growth.
Swoop is a global fintech company specialising in funding solutions for businesses. Swoop's platform connects businesses and advisors with the right funding options, streamlining the application process and saving them time and money. Swoop is committed to helping businesses thrive by making funding accessible and hassle-free.