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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