Laidlaw Scholars Ventures has made a $650,000 pre-seed investment into Guava, a digital banking and networking platform by and for Black entrepreneurs, to help narrow the racial wealth gap in the United States.
There are currently over 3 million Black entrepreneurs in the USA; however, the statistics surrounding their access to funding are extremely stark and concerning. Only 3% of Small Business Association loans go to Black entrepreneurs, with these loans being, on average, half the size of loans received by their peers.
Another comparison is the proportion of entrepreneurs gaining loans in their first year of operation, with Black entrepreneurs only receiving 1/7th the number of loans compared to white entrepreneurs. Citigroup researchers estimate that this inequitable access has cost the American economy $13 trillion in business revenue.
This is a huge problem that resonates with the Laidlaw Foundation as it seeks to provide education, opportunity and access to all. We believe that former Laidlaw Scholar Kelly Ifill is the right Founder & CEO to address this problem and that her passion, experience and drive will be vital in building this collaborative platform for Black entrepreneurs. Kelly has achieved a huge amount with her first funding round, setting up the foundations of the platform, building a group of advisors with sector expertise, and, most importantly, putting in place a highly skilled team with specialist areas of knowledge.
The product set starts with a current account and a community element that enables Guava to share insights & best practices and facilitate connection opportunities to support their customers. Using transaction data, customer engagement, and a user’s track record of business performance, Guava then offers a more comprehensive assessment of entrepreneurs' creditworthiness, surpassing the traditional, biased methods used by banks. Kelly’s ambition is to unleash the full potential of Black entrepreneurs by levelling the playing field, and LSV is confident not only in her success but her ability to drive significant value to the wider economy through the support of this underrepresented group of business owners.
Kelly has a big vision, and she has built a team that shares it. Given the scale of the problem, and her personal commitment to solving it, we are sure this is a business that will deliver both a huge positive impact and also a return for LSV. If you are interested in learning more about Guava for partnership, job opportunities, believe you can help them achieve their goals, or simply to learn more about the team, do reach out to us at LSV and we can connect you: email@example.com
Guava offers easily accessible financial services to small businesses through a digital banking platform. It allows for a company to be run at any time from anywhere from the app they have created. Their app offers an in-built track & grow function, whereby the cash flow and growth can be tracked, analysed, and managed. Business checking accounts operated through their app can easily be integrated into the services provided by other digital services platforms.
Kelly Ifill is the Founder & CEO of Guava. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Baruch College and a master of education degree in mathematics from St. John’s University. She began her career in education, working in schools in the US, Brazil and Dubai, before pursuing an MBA at Columbia Business School supported by the Laidlaw Foundation’s Women in Business Scholarship. She is now committed to closing the racial wealth gap and provide equitable financial products to Black small business owners through Guava, a full-service, digital-first banking institution.