Stories of Technology, Innovation, & Entrepreneurship in the Southeast

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July 12, 2023 | Tom Ballard

Southeast Shoutouts | New hub for Black entrepreneurs set for Charlotte

Zane Access, an Atlanta nonprofit, received support from AARP to help advance programs that provide education, mentorship, and networking opportunities for early-stage founders to help their businesses succeed.

From Charlotte, NC:

  • Charlotte Inno reports that Black Business Owners Corporation (BBOC), an organization founded in 2014 to bolster Black-owned companies and underrepresented neighborhoods through business development and community engagement efforts, plans to break ground on a hub designed for Black entrepreneurs next year. Through the physical hub, Black business owners, innovators and creatives will have access to educational programming, capital, co-working, research and development and resources needed to help their companies thrive. BBOC’s hub will undergo a five-phase development plan over the next year, which includes solidifying the Black business ecosystem, raising awareness and funds for the project, launching an online hub, finalizing plans for the space, and a groundbreaking event in 2024.
  • The Charlotte Fund is a new venture capital fund designed to give local investors access to the region’s most successful later stage ventures as well as exposure to a number of extraordinary seed stage ventures. Created by LaunchCLT, a local non-profit dedicated to fostering the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Charlotte Metro area, the fund has an 80-20 focus. That means that 80 percent of its capital will be invested in later stage companies with valuations greater than $100 million. Investment in this stage means reduced risk and faster returns, but also lower return multiples. The remaining 20 percent of the capital will be invested in the region’s most promising pre-seed and seed stage companies. These investments come with higher risk, but also higher potential returns.

From Birmingham, AL:

The city is home to one of the 20 companies selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Technologies Office and the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) Green Proving Ground program to test novel building technologies that could help commercial buildings decarbonize.

The company is Accelerate Wind whose wind turbine can be installed at the edge of the building roof and complement rooftop solar. Founded in 2017, the start-up explains on its website that “solar panels are only meeting 25-40 percent of building energy demand on many commercial buildings. Our wind turbines have the potential to add an average of 25 percent additional energy generation when installed alongside solar.”

Accelerate Wind and the other 19 recipients were selected in response to a GSA Request for Information that sought recommendations of technologies that could improve the operating efficiency of commercial buildings while promoting healthy workplaces; enable whole-building electrification; facilitate greenhouse gas reductions; provide on-site energy generation and storage systems; or deliver electric vehicle fleet and load management solutions.

From Atlanta, GA:

Zane Access, an Atlanta nonprofit designed to help entrepreneurs of color obtain resources to grow their businesses, received support from AARP to help advance programs that provide education, mentorship, and networking opportunities for early stage founders to help their businesses succeed.

The financial support will help fund Zane Access’s biannual “Access Capital Readiness” events this summer and fall, including “Women Founder” networking events, the “Scholars-in-Residence” summer intern program, and quarterly “Entrepreneurial Education” programs. The grant will also provide support for three women founders of color, age 45 and older who are making a career change and starting their businesses.

“AARP’s financial support for Zane Access underscores their commitment to help eliminate some of the disparities women and people of color have faced historically, which has limited their ability to form and grow businesses and build generational wealth,” said Shila Nieves Burney, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Zane Access and Zane Venture Fund.

The Atlanta-based venture capital fund and nonprofit component impact Georgia and the Southeast by helping entrepreneurs with solid business plans eliminate barriers, gain the needed knowledge, and connect with investors to grow and sustain their companies.

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