CapWay Digital Bank CEO Sheena Allen Talks Accion Opportunity Fund and Other Funding Options for Black Entrepreneurs

CapWay Digital Bank CEO Sheena Allen Talks Accion Opportunity Fund and Other Funding Options for Black Entrepreneurs
CapWay Digital Bank CEO Sheena Allen Talks Accion Opportunity Fund and Other Funding Options for Black Entrepreneurs

When the journey of an entrepreneur is incredibly rewarding, it is not simple. The will need for cash is a key challenge all business owners experience. The good thing is, resources like Accion Option Fund can arrive to the rescue. 

No a single understands Black entrepreneurs’ will need to have entry to funding extra than Sheena Allen, the founder and CEO of CapWay. CapWay is the revolutionary fintech firm that is removing boundaries and closing gaps via electronic banking and other economic providers for millennials and Gen Z. AfroTech spoke with Allen about how important funding alternatives like the Accion Possibility Fund are for Black business owners.

AfroTech: Getting the youngest girl in The united states to possess and function a digital bank is an unbelievable accomplishment. Looking at your non-tech qualifications, what impressed your journey as an entrepreneur in the tech and fintech industries? 


Sheena Allen: It’s exciting. I double-majored in movie and psychology and minored in internet marketing, but the truth is I didn’t want to go to higher education. I was a product college student — varsity basketball, scholar council, a 4.2 GPA. But immediately after I graduated, I just wished something different. My moms and dads desired me to go since of my scholarships, and I’m in fact a initial-generation university college student. My senior 12 months of college, I had an strategy for an application. But when I couldn’t uncover what I was on the lookout for, I resolved to produce it. That was my very first move into tech. 


I got into fintech because I was touring a large amount between the Bay and Austin. I noticed the vast change in the dealing with and entry to funds close to people today who ended up much more rich or in particular spots compared to Mississippi, exactly where I am from. That led me to imagine, “Hey, you know how to build a tech business and how to communicate to men and women in Silicon Valley. You also know what it is like when you however don’t have a lender account.” Putting people two feelings together was my 1st stage in fintech. 


AfroTech: You bootstrapped your initially business enterprise, Sheena Allen Apps, and a ton of business owners come to feel they can do the identical. But how and why is it essential for youthful Black business owners to consider gain of other funding solutions (i.e., loans, investments, and so forth.)?


Allen: It’s like the stating “Get it out the mud” — we do not have an possibility but to do it that way. Sad to say, we have experienced to bootstrap because of the disparities and discrimination for Black people today, particularly Black business people elevating dollars. But folks who have obtain are not paying out their personal money to get their organizations off the ground. They are using investments and loans. 


We’re coming upon a time the place we’re viewing much more chances open up, and there are more methods for Black organizations. I constantly tell people today that there are pros and disadvantages to every. For illustration, if you get an expenditure, you give up fairness. But‌, 100% of zero is zero. So if you can, go get that investment and go get that financial loan. 


AfroTech: What funding options and chances did you choose gain of, and how did they enable scale CapWay?  


Allen: CapWay is a enterprise capital-backed firm. We elevated outside funding and are focused on institutional funding, angel investors and undertaking capitalists.


But there are a good deal of solutions now that weren’t offered five years in the past, and surely not 10 many years back when I began my pretty initial enterprise. There are angel traders, tremendous angel buyers, fairness crowdfunding and much more. The commencing route I suggest is getting gain of business loans — especially if your business enterprise suits the revenue model demanded. 


AfroTech: How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your business enterprise? Were being there COVID grants or financial loans in place that you utilized as methods? If not, how could a little something like the aid fund be valuable? 


Allen: We had been pretty fortunate, [even though] we did have to lay off a couple of workers. The greatest effect that the pandemic had on us was not revenue by itself but fundraising possibilities. We took a glimpse at the marketplace and saw that, right soon after the peak of COVID and the dying of George Floyd, everybody was featuring mentorship or grant money. Every corporation in the earth was saying, “We’re pledging X amount of dollars.”


As a VC-backed founder, I thought it was egocentric for us to take benefit of COVID reduction funds since we experienced tens of millions in the bank. With so several mom-and-pop shops shutting down and getting to lay off personnel, I focused on allowing men and women know what choices were being readily available. Currently being a fintech corporation founded by a Black lady, I made guaranteed CapWay was having the word out about the grants and financial loan chances to other Black-owned firms. 


AfroTech: What have been the largest worries you faced when expanding and scaling your companies? What assistance would you offer you to entrepreneurs going through similar issues?


Allen: A obstacle that persons don’t chat about a large amount is locating a good staff and obtaining people today who assistance you get over troubles. When you are youthful, hustling and bootstrapping — even VC-backed corporations — you have to find the appropriate team. Even if you’re a solopreneur, you will need that foundation around when issues get tricky. Whether it’s a religious person, a bigger being or anyone you can decide up the telephone and simply call, you want to have a person. 


Social media is great for business and networking, but it’s also a challenge. My most significant guidance is don’t let what people today put up on social media make or crack you. Never enable social media make you sense like everybody’s doing incredible and you are failing. You’re not. Many others are going through the identical problems. 


Finally, the greatest challenge for Black women is funding. We raise considerably less funds than every person — significantly less than 1% of VC pounds. It is not simply because our businesses aren’t great, not for the reason that there aren’t some completely lousy-ass Black gals performing awesome points. They just never fund us. You can connect with it unconscious bias or whatever else, but numbers do not lie. 


This is why options like Accion Prospect Fund are great for Black business owners. Accion Possibility Fund is making a alter and helping people today who have been forgotten and underinvested. 


This editorial is brought to you in partnership with Accion Option Fund.