- George Benson
Why are we mapping Black Founders and their businesses in Portugal?
Last year we decided to have a more hands-on involvement with the European startup ecosystem, as part of Djassi Africa's strategy to support the development and enable funding opportunities for Black Founders in Europe. Djassi Africa’s mission is to transform Africa through digital innovation and entrepreneurship, and this ambitious vision is only achievable if we also engage, support and empower the Africa diaspora innovators across the globe and leverage their intellectual, financial and network resources for the transformation of the African continent.
So we decided to deep dive into Portugal’s startup ecosystem, for being the country where we grew up and, naturally, very close to our hearts. We’ve noticed that Black Founders in Portugal are facing a major visibility challenge, impacting their access to relevant networks, support and capital needed to build and grow their businesses. We looked at the available data through existing ecosystem reports and news outlets, and we uncovered another major challenge – the practically non-existent data on Black Founders and their businesses in Portugal.
As we sustain our strategies on data, we decided to take a sample of 1059 startup founders based in Portugal to understand the percentage of Black founders within this population – and, from this sample, we concluded that less than 1% of Black founders are included in the Portuguese startup ecosystem (0.8% to be exact).
Knowing for a fact that the percentage of Black founders in Portugal is considerable higher than this number, so many questions came to our minds:
Who are the Black founders in Portugal?
Where are they?
How do we bring them to the formal innovation ecosystem?
How do we support and develop their startups and digital businesses?
How do we enable funding opportunities for them?
All very important questions that need comprehensive and contextualised answers. Not only answers for Djassi Africa, but for the entire Portuguese startup ecosystem. The lack of equality and diversity is costing the Portuguese ecosystem returns, talent and innovation.
And we decided to act to start closing the gap, as the cost of not acting was just too high. This demanding action would only be viable by mobilising as much ecosystem players as possible in Portugal to join the journey ahead, as we all have a role to play to create an even playing field for Black Founders in the country. And this is exactly what we did in the past two months, with the vast majority of these entities embracing this mission with open arms, which gave us hope and encouragement for such a complex mission (thank you all!).
The first step to begin to close this diversity and equity gap is to identify and map the Black Founders in Portugal. Data, in different shapes and forms, has always been a key foundation for any meaningful change, and in this case, crucial to understand what the playing field looks like today in Portugal for Black founders. This will allow us to spark the right conversations and develop bespoke strategies and solutions to create an even playing field for Black Founders in Portugal.
Be part of the change by filling and/ or sharing the AFROPRENEURS survey available here: www.AFROPRENEURS.pt.
Equitable racial representation throughout the startup ecosystem will empower Afropreneurs to develop solutions to systemic problems, opening up opportunities for Black founders of today and for generations to come.