Kathryn Finney just made a huge announcement at South by Southwest 2016, one that she hopes will change the scope of tech for women of color.
Let’s start at the beginning.
In 2003 Finney started the Budget Fashionista, a blog all about being fabulous on a dime. By 2004 Finney’s site had become one of the first major fashion blogs on the Web. She was able to write full time, and her accolades as a “Master of Cheap Chic” grew so large that she was able to sell the site and focus on getting more women of color in tech.
In 2012 she founded digitalundivided, a social enterprise that finds, trains and supports innovative women of color who are leaders and entrepreneurs within the tech field. DID also develops programs, projects and forward-thinking initiatives that bridge the digital divide. Its mantra is “Go big or go home,” and that’s exactly what Finney is doing: going big!
DID finds black women and Latinas who are tech founders with high-growth companies and game-changing ideas and connects them to an unmatched network of investors, mentors and influencers. The women are able to develop with DID’s startup tool kit and hone their leadership skills on the entrepreneurial journey from the build phase to exit.
In short, DID wants to even the playing field for women of color in startups and tech.
The announcement at SXSW is proof that DID is well on the way: It is launching an initiative in Atlanta called the BIG Innovation Center.
This 6,000-square-foot space will be home to the BIG accelerator program, a 16-week track for high-growth companies led by women of color and financed by the newly launched Harriet Fund. Led by investment guru Gayle Jennings O’Byrne and Finney, the Harriet Fund and the Harriet Angels Syndicate is the first venture fund focused on investing in exceptional black and Latina female founders.
“This has never been done for black women before,” Finney told The Root. “First we quantified the problem with our #ProjectDiane research study, and now we’re solving it via the BIG Innovation Center!”
DID has been working on this deal for over a year, and the team kept their heads down and did the work. “We’re fundamentally changing the discussion about tech and diversity. It is breathtaking,” Finney said.
She added, “Our goal is to find untapped talent, untapped opportunities—we know that our people have been untapped for years.”
BIG will begin accepting accelerator applications in the first week in May, and although Finney says the selection process will be tough, she encourages everyone to apply.
“We’re giving permission for everyone to be great as well,” she says. “We are a resource for the entire black tech community.”
She boldly states, “The problem won’t be solved by people being meek and small.”
BIG is Finney’s answer. And digitalundivided is proudly leading the way as a resource for a bigger, brighter future.