Innovations That Inspire

Peachtree Minority Venture Fund

Recognition Year(s): 2023
School: Goizueta Business School, Emory University
Location: United States

Addressing systemic racial inequity in business, the Peachtree Minority Venture Fund is a million-dollar student-run venture capital fund at Goizueta—the first to offer investments exclusively to Black, Latinx, and Native American entrepreneurs.

Call to Action

Research shows that while venture capital investments have quadrupled in the past 10 years, the growth has not supported underrepresented entrepreneurs. Women and minority founders receive less than 3 percent of capital investments. Only 1 percent of VC-backed founders are Black, and less than 2 percent are Latinx. Black entrepreneurs are rejected for loans at a rate almost 20 percent higher than white entrepreneurs. In 2020, after the deaths of George Floyd and other Black Americans, many universities and business schools publicly committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

But for business students at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School in Atlanta, Georgia, located five miles from the birthplace of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., those conversations just weren’t enough. Humza Mirza is a Goizueta MBA alumnus and one of the four managing partners of of the fund from the inaugural cohort. He shares, “After moving to Atlanta during the rise of the racial and social justice movement, it was important for me to help lead a cause that puts real dollars towards alleviating the hurdles underrepresented minorities face every day.”

Under Goizueta’s leadership, the students took steps to spark meaningful change. They organized a case competition related to social justice, launched a venture fund for underrepresented entrepreneurs, and created momentum that led to a new DEI concentration for full-time MBA students.

Together, the new initiatives strengthen the school’s commitment to DEI, which is one of its four strategic priorities. Along with leadership, business and society, and entrepreneurship and innovation, DEI is central to everything Goizueta hopes to achieve.

Innovation Details

The Peachtree Minority Venture Fund is run as a course through the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Students apply for a role in the fund and receive both technical VC investing training and a curriculum focused on underrepresented minority entrepreneurship and bias. They are guided by an investment and academic committee and advisory board of key experts and professionals. Students source up to 200 companies each year, conduct due diligence, and make investment recommendations. All proceeds from the fund are marked for reinvestment.

“We are really good at finding interesting ways to take what might be a straight theoretical issue in the classroom and then having students experience it in a real setting. This is a big challenge for professional schools—how to manage that tension between theory and practice. I see this venture fund as absolutely working and think this is a great example of what Goizueta does well,” says Robert Kazanjian, the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Organization & Management and academic director of The Roberto C. Goizueta Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.

Innovation Impact

After a semester of research and analysis, in May 2022 the 24 students in Goizueta Business School’s Venture Capital and Minority Entrepreneurship class announced the first three investments for the Peachtree Minority Venture Fund. An award of 25,000 USD was granted to CommunityX, a mobile-first social app that unites like-minded changemakers around shared causes. Ecotone Renewables of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, earned a 15,000 USD award and is the maker of Soil Sauce, a liquid plant fertilizer organically produced from food waste. An award of 15,000 USD went to Atlanta-based FundStory, which helps finance teams access and manage non-dilutive capital.

Peachtree Minority Venture Fund is part of a larger initiative at Goizueta, including a new DEI concentration for full-time MBA students. The school is focused on building principled leaders who positively impact business and society. Kazanjian adds, “Through the fund and the academic course experience, Goizueta students will attain a deep understanding of how unconscious bias, the lack of diversity among venture capitalists, and the structure of investors’ personal networks all contribute to these inequities.”

“We’re not just getting MBAs,” says former student partner Alexia M. Brown. “We are seeing problems like injustice and taking action. Bridging that gap of wealth and inequality in this country is better for our economy. When everyone has access to be the best versions of themselves, we are all better off.”

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