Seeing is Believing: Exposure Opens New Horizons for the Underserved

“What you don’t know you will not recognize”

African Proverb


This African proverb, “What you don’t know, you will not recognize,” rings true in the context of economic inclusion and upward mobility. Often, individuals from disadvantaged communities lack exposure to professional role models that resemble them.

A mere 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs are people of color, and only 1% are Black. For women, the numbers are even smaller, with just 37 female Fortune 500 CEOs (7.4%). Such lack of representation in leadership and high-paying fields perpetuates limiting beliefs about possible achievements. A 2016 study found that exposure to success, such as moving to better neighborhoods, resulted in low-income boys earning over 30% more annually.

Actively reaching underserved groups is crucial to counter the narrative that certain opportunities are out of reach. Role models that defy stereotypes have proven significant positive effects on marginalized youth. Similarly, mentorship is a key enabler of success, with 72% of executives attributing their careers to it. However, only 37% of women and minorities have mentors. Initiatives outcome focused by offering mentorship for career advancement to the marginalized experiencing tremendous results.

Access to education and training allows individuals to gain the qualifications and skills necessary for high-paying jobs. Innovation hubs and bootcamps focused on serving women, minorities, and low-income individuals have produced outstanding outcomes, such as an 85% employment rate post-graduation and an average salary increase of 38%.

Reducing barriers to education and skills development for marginalized groups is essential. Expanding access to broadband, devices, and digital literacy enables more individuals to participate in the modern economy.

While challenges persist, there is momentum towards empowering the underserved through economic inclusion. Conscious leaders across sectors are uniting to implement solutions.

“You cannot be what you cannot see,” but together, we can broaden perspectives, create upward mobility, and ensure winds of change continue to blow us into our destined future. Extend a hand to uplift another to ensure they have the dignity to define it.

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Unlocking trillions

Removing barriers to unlock trillions in untapped potential


Most bankers would deny consciously discriminating against minority businesspeople. But unconscious biases run deep in even the well-intentioned. Studies show we all possess hidden prejudices largely shaped by society’s stereotypes.

When a bank representative or underwriter has just minutes to decide an entrepreneur’s fate, these subconscious biases subtly skew their perception. Research finds they often view ideas from non-white communities as less viable – not based on merits but on racial stereotypes imprinted in our minds.

No fault of their own, but without diverse representation, leaders lack life experiences to understand challenges others face. Thus, policies have favored some while leaving others locked out of opportunities that could transform lives and communities.

You may think this doesn’t affect you. But we all pay the societal costs. When promising ventures are suffocated before sprouting, it limits jobs, economic growth, and innovations that could make our world more prosperous and solve the crises we all face.

It’s time to remove invisible barriers, not with accusations but solutions. Training can curb unconscious biases just as reviews ensure fair outcomes. With accountability and diverse leadership reflecting those served, banks can fulfill their duty to support all hardworking entrepreneurs.

Promising alternatives have emerged that leverage cutting-edge tools to directly activate capital for underrepresented ventures. Platforms bypass traditional gatekeepers, allowing ideas to be evaluated on merit alone.

Impact investors are increasingly deploying specialized microfinancing approaches shown to uplift communities when targeted toward women-led startups. Loans paired with training have generated outsized returns by empowering entrepreneurs previously locked out due to lack of collateral.

Advanced technologies also hold potential – AI credit-scoring models analyze thousands of data points to assess “unscorable” entrepreneurs fairly, while blockchain allows ownership tokens to represent startup equity without barriers. Yet we always need to remember we are here to support one another, technology will simply amplify our efforts.

Our shared future depends on unleashing the full potential of our diverse population. If we activate all available tools, from revised bank training to direct community investment, a more equitable system can emerge fostering prosperity for all.

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Funding Favors the Fortunate

Funding Favors the Fortunate: Leveling the Playing Field for Diverse Founders


The playing field for startup founders is far from level. Research clearly shows that women, minorities, and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds face significant barriers in accessing venture capital and loan funding. Systemic disadvantages have real consequences for entrepreneurs and our economy.

A striking 2014 CBInsights study found that less than 1% of venture capital-backed startup founders were Black. With white men dominating Silicon Valley networks, many diverse groups lack connections and exposure to capital sources. This funding disparity limits opportunities for innovators outside the dominant demographic.

According to a 2020 National Community Reinvestment Coalition study, if Black business owners experienced fair and equal access to financing, their numbers would be over three times higher than today. Yet biases, both conscious and unconscious, persist within investor communities. For example, Black entrepreneurs are three times as likely to have small business loan applications rejected compared to their white counterparts. A lack of multi-generational wealth transfers among non-white families further exacerbates obstacles.

While expanding microfinance programs and impact investing in underrepresented founders are positive steps, deeper systemic changes are needed across sectors. We need to establish a new model that fills the valley currently left by existing Venture capital and must prioritize diverse recruiting to dismantle homogeneous networks and the inherent biases they breed. Lending institutions should conduct equity audits of approval rates to surface any disproportionate rejections of marginalized groups.

Governments and large philanthropic institutions must support new, innovative approaches and organizations aiming to fill gaps in seed-stage funding and resources for innovators of color and women. Targeted initiatives could include accessible accelerators and mentorship programs designed to help these founders overcome barriers.

As recent data illustrates, systematic disadvantages persist. The Federal Reserve’s latest Small Business Credit Survey found majority-female owned and minority-owned businesses experienced disproportionately higher rejection rates for financing. A 2018 study in Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice also revealed investors are less likely to fund companies led by Black entrepreneurs compared to white entrepreneurs with identical business models, highlighting evidence of racial biases.

As a society, we must acknowledge how existing power structures have systematically advantaged some groups while hindering others. Only by openly recognizing these longstanding funding disparities, as validated through studies, can we begin to build a more equitable and inclusive culture of entrepreneurship. With open-minded support from all sectors, visionary ideas from founders of all backgrounds can fully come to fruition, fueling inclusive economic growth and societal progress. Our shared future prosperity depends on empowering underrepresented innovators and unleashing the untapped creative potential within every community.



FREYJA Group Empowered Women

Empower Her, Transform Tomorrow

We all have a role to play in creating a more just and equitable society. But research shows that empowering women and girls holds unique potential to catalyze progress.

Estimates suggest that achieving gender equality could add $12 trillion to global GDP by 2025. The World Bank highlights that investments in women spur lasting benefits – reducing poverty and inequality while driving development. For example, women’s education is linked to lower child malnutrition and mortality.

Yet obstacles remain at alarming levels globally.

Over 2.5 billion women are legally restricted from having the same choice of jobs as men. At least 1 in 3 women worldwide experience gender-based violence in their lifetime. The average gender pay gap hovers around 20% across 40 countries studied by the OECD.

Empower Her and Watch Societies Flourish: The Data-Backed Case

The evidence is clear – advancing women’s empowerment accelerates social progress and unlocks vast economic potential. But this requires dismantling barriers across public and private spheres:

Empowering women and girls through education, economic opportunities, health care access, political participation, and leadership capacity transforms communities for the better. Purposeful investment directed at women not only uplifts individuals, but compounds to benefit societies and economies overall.

Shaping a Brighter Future:

True change requires re-imagining systems holistically. The collective future we shape by empowering her – at home, in schools, through policies, within firms – will either propel or hinder progress for generations to come. The research provides hope: women’s empowerment sparks a better world for all.

Will you join us in transforming tomorrow?

The journey starts NOW.

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Sheridan, WY 82801

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