Omi Bell is perseverance personified.
During AfroTech Executive D.C., the Black Girl Ventures Founder and CEO recalled her journey to get to where she is today. Bell shared that her mother was her first investor. Believing in her daughter’s dreams, she gave Bell $10,000 from her retirement fund.
Since then, Bell has turned receiving her first investment into becoming a leader in supporting people who were once like her, chasing the dream of entrepreneurship.
As previously reported by AfroTech, in May during a fireside chat at AfroTech Executive D.C. titled, “Empowering Tech Talent: Building a Collaborative Ecosystem,” Bell stated that Black Girl Ventures has funded 450 Black and brown companies. The Alexandria, VA-based nonprofit hosts crowdfunded pitch competitions, where entrepreneurs are able to access capital to fund their businesses.
“The BGV Style pitch competition is the largest pitch competition globally for Black/Brown women founders,” Black Girl Ventures’ website describes. “It uniquely combines the premise of Shark Tank and Kickstarter by activating community participation in donating to support women-owned businesses directly.”
Bell partnered with the likes of Pharrell Williams’ Black Ambition to host her “Pull Up and Pitch” competition at the 2023 Something in the Water Festival. According to The Virginian Pilot, mompreneur Crystal Lugo took home a grand prize of $25,000 to invest in her business, B & C Gloves. The second-place prize of $15,000 went to Brittney and Javon Callier, who are behind “Pour and Stay Full.”
What’s more, TikTok committed $1 million to Black Girl Ventures to support Black and brown women entrepreneurs, according to a press release. It was awarded alongside the Hispanic Heritage Foundation in recognition of National Small Business Week, April 30 through May 6.
“Creators are entrepreneurial thinkers who showcase audacity and talent on a daily basis on TikTok,” Bell said in the press statement. “In order to launch a business you have to be creative. TikTok is a place where small business owners get to claim their lionshare of the market without barriers.”
She continued, “In a world where women and people of color are constantly pushing against societal norms that don’t always welcome them with open arms, it is imperative to have platforms that allow you to flex your authenticity, gain access to new networks, and grow your business on your own terms.”
Bell is all about teaching the next generation of founders and entrepreneurs. A word of advice she shared with AfroTech for founders to stand out is for them to collect data no one else has that displays the value they can bring, especially if they’re seeking investors. Additionally, something she’s learned that helped her along the way is: “Be all that you are as soon as possible.”
Bell has shared more gems through the release of her new book, “Originate, Motivate, Innovate: 7 Steps for Building a Billion Dollar Network.”