Image Source: Aster & Zeal Capital Partners

Top Women Leveraging Cultural Currency To Spur Black Entrepreneurship

By CultureBanx Team

  • Fifi Kara, CEO of Aster, is leveraging cultural currency with Zeal Capital Partners to carve unique pathways through the realms of financing, innovation, and representation
  • Overall funding to Black-founded startups dropped a staggering 71% last year

In the vibrant tapestry of modern entrepreneurship, Black entrepreneurs stand out and are leveraging their cultural currency, a critical yet often overlooked asset that powers not only the engines of individual businesses but also the broader ecosystem of minority-led innovation. Although overall funding to Black-founded startups dropped a staggering 71% last year, Zeal Capital Partners is continuing to invest in game changing entrepreneurs like Fifi Kara, CEO of Aster, an all in one women’s health management platform, to carve unique pathways through the realms of financing, innovation, and representation.

Why This Matters: Since cultural currency encompasses the symbolic value and social capital associated with specific cultural practices, knowledge, or artifacts within a given social context, Black entrepreneurs can benefit greatly from this. CultureBanx reported that this concept, rooted in the sociological and anthropological study of culture, helps understand the dynamics of power, social stratification, and cultural capital exchange.

Black entrepreneurs can and do use their cultural cache to navigate financing hurdles, drive innovation, and carve out spaces where their voices and businesses can thrive. This is where Kara describes her company’s path to becoming a venture backed health-tech startup as a long journey with nearly 10 years of building up a strong network.

“No one questioned whether or not this problem existed, it was more about the solution and how it could be scalable,” said Kara to CultureBanx during their Funding Cultural Currency conversation. She is excited to put their pre-seed money to work and grow the company.

Her company Aster is poised to disrupt the U.S. Women’s Health market that captured $21.6 billion in 2022, and it is expected to hit around $32.1 billion by 2032. Women also account for 80% of consumer purchasing decisions in the healthcare industry, according to McKinsey.

Capitalizing On Culture

In the realm of venture capital, the influence of cultural currency is profoundly evident, particularly when examining the experiences of Black venture capitalists. These individuals often navigate a landscape marked by nuanced communication styles and systemic barriers, which significantly impact investment decisions and interactions within the industry.

The decline in capital to Black-founded companies greatly outpaces the overall decline in startup funding. Crunchbase reported that last year venture funding to Black-founded U.S. startups totaled only $705 million, which is the first time since 2016 that the figure failed to even reach $1 billion.

Several venture capital funds have emerged, focusing on empowering Black and underrepresented entrepreneurs. Firms like Zeal Capital Partners are pioneering changes in the investment landscape by directing capital towards ventures led by Black founders, who are often overlooked and underfunded. 

“Increasing representation is also about increasing the check writing side and who has the authority to make decisions around investments and deploy that capital. I look at it as a huge opportunity to invest in founders who are often overlooked,” said Thomas.

Talent is everywhere and not related to any specific zip code. This is why Thomas through her work at Zeal Capital Partners is making sure that these founders have access to venture capital funding, to build for dreams that’s driving towards their greatest ambitions in innovation.

What’s Next: Though some funds have faced setbacks in their mission to provide capital to underrepresented founders, there have been initiatives like California’s new law requiring VC firms to report on the diversity of the founders they invest in are setting precedents for transparency and accountability, potentially leading to more equitable funding practices. These insights into the venture capital world with Zeal Capital Partners and its portfolio company Aster reveal the critical role of cultural currency and highlight the ongoing efforts to mitigate bias and foster a more inclusive economic environment for diverse entrepreneurs.

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