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Programmes supporting diverse innovators & entrepreneurs

Hannah Page

Chief Operating Officer

Photo by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

22 Programmes & funds supporting diverse innovators

Diverse teams are quantifiably better at delivering innovation and financial results than homogeneous teams. Numerous studies show that. From a fundamental business perspective, hiring and working with diverse groups makes total sense, but that’s not what’s happening. 

There’s still ridiculous levels of inequality among innovation teams and startups. For example, the World Intellectual Property Organization showed that women are gravely underrepresented in IP ownership. Other research found that women, people of colour, and women of colour report significant inequities, hurdles and biases—from a lack of mentorship and support to a lack of funding—only 3% of venture capital goes to female-led companies and less than 1% to founders who are women of colour.

However, there are initiatives and companies trying to readdress such inequalities through mentorship and funding. I’ve created a list of some of these below and tried to focus on initiatives open to people globally, but some are UK or USA-centric. 

Mentorship & growth support for diverse innovators 

1. Center for Black Innovation

CFBI offers an 8-week online accelerator programme for early-stage Black founders to become “investor ready.” The accelerator helps you get the foundational aspects of your business ready for outside investment. They also offer ongoing access to mentors.

Find out more

2. Black Girl Ventures

Founded in 2016 by serial entrepreneur Shelly Bell, BGV supports Black/Brown woman-identifying founders of tech-enabled, revenue-generating businesses (under $1M.) They offer a 3-month fellowship programme for early-stage entrepreneurs and ecosystem builders to help develop leadership skills. They also provide an online global community called BGV Connect which is open to founders, CEOs, intrapreneurs, and entrepreneurs and offers support and access to peers, experts and funding opportunities. 

Find out more

3. Black Girls In Tech

BGIT created a global community of 20,000 Black women working in tech. They offer support, dedicated mentorship programmes and boot camps. The mentoring programme is open to Black women at any phase of their career/startup journey. 

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4. Girls in Tech

Established in 2007 by Adriana Gascoigne, Girls in Tech has over 60,000 members in 50+ chapters worldwide. They have helped over 5k entrepreneurs get funding and mentorship through their startup pitch competition AMPLIFY.

Find your local chapter to find out more

5. Women in Tech

Women in Tech is focused on Inclusion, Diversity & Equity in STEAM. Their community has over 200k women worldwide, with chapters on all six continents. The Women in Tech mentorship programme is open to women globally and is designed to support women in their journey as leaders via “near-peer mentorship”, where mentors are just a couple of life stages ahead of mentees. 

Find out more

6. Women in Tech Network

Women in Tech Network has over 70k+ members across 172 countries and is powered by Coding Girls, Tech Family Ventures and Tallocate. The mentorship programme is free of charge and focused on career development within tech fields. 

Find out more

7. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) 

While the USPTO doesn’t offer mentorship programmes, they provide a range of events to help innovators from various underrepresented groups (Black, Hispanic, women, AANHP and veterans) learn about Intellectual Property and protecting innovations. 

Find out more

8. The Accessful Foundation

The Accessful Foundation is a UK-based charity for disabled people by disabled people. The mentoring programme helps disabled entrepreneurs on a one-to-one basis build their businesses at any stage of their journey.

Find out more

9. Startout 

Since 2019, Startout has supported LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and built a community of over 25,000 members. The mentorship programme matches you with one of 200+ mentors to work on your core goals over six months. So far, 1200 people have used this mentor programme. Startout also runs a virtual Growth Lab accelerator programme twice a year for companies registered in the US. 

Find out more

10. DigitalUndivided

DigitalUndivided is a non-profit offering various accelerator programmes for Latina and Black women entrepreneurs and innovators. Each programme is designed for different stages of growth, from startups to the $1 million revenue mark and includes 1-1 mentorship and hands-on support. 

Find out more

11. 2Gether-International 

2GI supports founders with disabilities. They offer a range of accelerator programmes which involve workshops, 1-1 coaching, peer-to-peer founder discussion, networking groups, connections to investors, and support fundraising both during and post-programme.

Find out more

12.  Ace Entrepreneurs

ACE Entrepreneurs is a free to join membership organisation which supports and provide investment for marginalised entrepreneurs and black-owned businesses in the UK. They offer access to over 20 key business & finance content hubs as well as alternative start-up funding. They also offer an accelerator programme taking startups from an idea to launch in 6 months, with the option to pitch for investment at the end of the program

Find out more

Funding for diverse innovators

13. Backstage Capital

Backstage Capital invests in ”underestimated founders”, including women, people of colour, and LGBTQ+ founders. To date, they have invested in 200 companies led by underrepresented founders. They invest in Pre-Seed to Series A rounds and beyond and will consider founders based outside the US. 

Find out more

14. Black Ambition 

Pharrell Williams is the founder of Black Ambition—a competition which awards up to $1M in funding to selected Black and Latinx entrepreneurs. Semi-finalists are eligible to participate in a 3-month peer-to-peer mentorship programme, and finalists will have access to 1-1 mentorship and coaching to develop a strong pitch for judges and potential investors.

Find out more

15. Women who tech

Women who tech is a nonprofit organisation that runs several Women Startup Challenges. The programme offers women creating innovative tech products an 8-week virtual programme that includes pitch coaching, mentoring, and access to funding. The founders have the opportunity to pitch top VCs during the demo night and potentially win a $50K grant. Outside of the Startup challenge, they also offer a range of grants. 

Find out more 

16. Gaingels

Gaingels is an LGBTQIA+/Allies private investment syndicate that co-invests with venture capital leads. They invest in companies from any sector or stage but do not lead rounds, so they will only invest as part of a group.

Find out more

17. SoGal Ventures

SoGal Ventures is a women-led venture capital firm investing in early-stage startups in North America and Asia. They focus on startups founded by women and diverse entrepreneurs. You can pitch SoGal via their website. 

Find out more

18. Harlem Capital 

This venture capital firm is on a mission to change the face of entrepreneurship by investing in 1,000 diverse founders over 20 years. The current fund is $134m, and they are making investments of $1m-$3m in Seed rounds but only invest in US, Latam, or Africa-based companies. You can send your pitch to them via their website. 

Find out more

19. Cornerstone Partners

Cornerstone is an Angel network and investment platform for individuals to invest in curated Pre-Seed and Seed-stage opportunities led by Black and diverse founders in the UK. You can make a pitch via their website. 

Find out more

20. Impact America Fund

IAF invests in companies built for and by people in marginalised communities in the USA. They make early-stage investments in tech-driven businesses and help founders get traction with institutional investors. They primarily invest in Seed to Series B, making investments of $250K to $3M (as well as offering bridge funding between rounds.) Pitches are accepted via their website. 

Find out more

21. Impact X

Impact X is a VC which supports underrepresented entrepreneurs across Europe who target health & lifestyle, media & entertainment or digital & technology sectors. Entrepreneurs can pitch via their website, and they aim to respond within seven days. 

Find out more

22. Kaleidoscope Investments

The Kaleidoscope Group invests in disabled entrepreneurs, or businesses focused on a disability-related purpose. They invest £10,000 – £250,000 in Seed capital in return for a mutually agreed equity stake between 2.5% – 25%. You can contact them via their website.

Find out more


I really hope this list is a valuable resource for founders facing inequality and biases, but more than that, I want this list to become obsolete. For that to happen, everyone working in the industry must do their part in levelling the playing field and ensuring that innovators from diverse groups are represented.