Manage episode 359290451 series 3363852
Tracy Gray is Founder and Managing Partner of The 22 Fund, a venture capital fund that is facing investment and equity injustice head-on – in the finance sector, women and people of color are historically and consistently underrepresented.
In her varied career, Tracy has worked as Senior Advisor for International Business to the Mayor of Los Angeles, as a systems engineer (aka “rocket scientist!”) on a space shuttle mission, and following her 2015 TEDx Talk on “Why It’s Time for Women to be Sexist With Capital,” established We Are Enough, a non-profit focused on educating ALL women on investing in women-owned, for-profit businesses.
The 22 Fund builds upon that belief, that women and people of color don’t need any more “mentorship” or “technical assistance”; they need capital and help with exporting. It is a “mission-driven fund looking for high-impact and high-end returns” for climate-focused, self-sustaining technologies and ideas, and intentionally includes these historically overlooked groups.
Tracy focuses her portfolio on manufacturing companies, which are typically located in low- or moderate-income communities, with the goal of exporting to elevate the community via higher wages and greater access to opportunities. Exporting coupled with manufacturing sees wages nearing $100K annually on average, they’re more likely to have healthcare, and increased generational wealth for women and people of color, says Tracy. “Our mission is to create the clean, quality jobs of the future” in these lower-income communities.
The 22 Fund’s portfolio has launched products as disparate as:
- a fertilizer grow-medium for indoor farming created from food waste, targeted for use in sub-Saharan Africa;
- an alternative to the petroleum-based carbon black, the main ingredient in textile colors, produced from wood waste; and,
- a hair care product for textured hair, which turned into Sienna Naturals, a company now co-owned by Issa Rae.
Tracy believes the time is right for an “all-government approach” to manufacturing and exports. “America is an insular, consumer-based economy that expects to sell just to each other – a system based largely on the fear of being taken advantage of, or the unknown – but economic instabilities aren’t well managed without exporting,” she explains.
Relying on government services – the Department of Commerce, the Small Business Administration, EXIM Bank – essentially comprises a concierge service that can move a company through:
- Market analysis
- Marketing partners on the ground
- All the things you need to export
And these government agencies don’t market themselves so knowing what’s available to you is critical to global success. The 22 Fund will help by “providing the capital that doesn’t exist for these companies, especially for manufacturers, women, people of color, all of the capital gaps that exist.” All the entrepreneur needs to bring to the table is a good idea and the courage to succeed.
The 22 Fund - https://the22fund.com/
TedxOlympicBlvdWomen - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uyggi2IYXXY
US Department of Commerce – Minority Business Development Agency - https://www.mbda.gov/
Small Business Administration Office of International Trade - https://www.sba.gov/about-sba/sba-locations/headquarters-offices/office-international-trade
EXIM Bank - https://www.exim.gov/solutions/get-financing
Connect with Wendy - https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendypease/
Connect with Tracy - https://www.linkedin.com/in/tracydgray/
Music: Fiddle-De-Dee by Shane Ivers - https://www.silvermansound.com