February 9, 2023, 4:30 PM EST
Watch: How and Why Synchrony Invests Big in Minority-Owned Businesses
In a conversation between Black Enterprise’s "Beyond the Hype" host Alfred Edmond, Head of Synchrony Ventures Jeff Lamour, and Zeal Capital Partners Founder and Managing Partner Nasir Qadree, the trio discusses how investors can advance equity for minority entrepreneurs.
Though 20% of all new businesses are owned by minorities, Black and Latinx founders only received 2.6% of venture capital (VC) funding in 2020 — and these groups are most likely to feel the pinch when investors pull back support. “It really boils down to who the check-writers are, and the capital they have to extend to diverse founders," Lamour says in the discussion.
(For More “Beyond The Hype,” and Synchrony’s story, visit our YouTube)
Leading the corporate ventures arm of Synchrony, Lamour takes his position as a "check-writer" seriously, pursuing direct investments and impactful partnerships with diverse fund managers.
Qadree is just one of those partners—and he has seen firsthand how Synchrony can provide material benefits for founders, beyond just providing capital. “It's easy to tap into [Synchrony's] resources that allow you to run and build a best-in-class franchise.”
Initiatives to Support Diverse Businesses, Fund Managers and Founders
“The conversation internally at Synchrony was a very easy one, because at the company's core, diversity and inclusion have been a point of focus for quite some time,” Lamour says. And while forthcoming conversations are an important step for raising awareness about these issues, Synchrony's support for underrepresented founders extends beyond just talk.
Most recently, Synchrony announced a new $100 million commitment to Ariel Alternatives' Project Black private equity fund, which will help transform middle-market companies into minority-owned businesses of scale by becoming top-tier suppliers to Fortune 500 companies. This investment builds on the company's demonstrated dedication to advancing equity as a business imperative that drives long-term progress. Synchrony and Synchrony Ventures also pledged $20 million to VC funds led by Black, Hispanic and female investing partners, embarked on a $50 million initiative to improve higher education access and contributed $5 million to community-based organizations serving small business owners.
The company’s efforts to strengthen its supplier diversity program have already driven clear results. In 2022, Synchrony achieved a 180% increase in the number of proposal submissions by diverse suppliers - and nearly 70% of those were selected to do business with Synchrony. Within our own organization, we've worked to hire, upskill and advance diverse talent through a data-driven approach, and in collaboration with OneTen, a coalition committed to a more inclusive workplace.
"There is so much that can happen when you put a focus on initiatives that are driving the outcomes that we believe we can drive together," Lamour says.
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