Melissa Bradley discusses her work building entrepreneurial support ecosystems from leadership roles across the public, private, and social sectors
“It’s not a racial imperative. It’s not a moral imperative. It’s an economic imperative. If (New Majority entrepreneurs) are the fasting growing businesses creating the most jobs, I’m just baffled by the fact that people would not have an element of intentionality to invest in them.”
“Where the government has the capacity, by agency or by dollars, to be catalytic and take a little bit more risk in standing up and fixing the pipes and building the infrastructure, the markets will come.”
After being denied a Small Business Association loan for being a Black woman, Melissa Bradley has since dedicated her career to funding and building support ecosystems for historically marginalized entrepreneurs. From her time working in the Treasury Department of the Clinton White House to the recent launch of both Ureeka and the 1863 Fund, Melissa has helped support entrepreneurship and wealth creation from leadership roles across the public, private, and social sectors.
Currently, Melissa is the Managing Partner of 1863 Ventures, a nonprofit accelerator of New Majority entrepreneurs – their term for the aggregation of diverse ethnic groups that will represent a majority of the US population by 2044. Here she recently launched the 1863 Fund, which aims to both reduce the cost of capital for New Majority founders and to better align that capital through the use of revenue-based financing. She is also the co-founder of Ureeka, an online platform for entrepreneurs to access the people, programs, and connections they need to grow. She is an Adjunct Professor of impact investing and social entrepreneurship at Georgetown University and served as a political appointee under both Presidents Obama and Clinton, most recently as the Director of the Social Innovation Fund under President Obama.
During the conversation, Melissa talks about how the entrepreneurial ecosystem has grown and evolved over the years and the biggest areas of need moving forward. She also discusses where certain sectors are best positioned to create impact and areas that will require cross-sector collaboration to create lasting change.
- 1863 Ventures recently hosted a virtual town hall focused on how individuals and institutions can support and invest in Black entrepreneurs. Watch the recap and check out the recommended resources here
- The 1863 Fund is part of the Kauffman Foundation’s inaugural Capital Access Lab cohort. Read “Future Returns: Financing Underserved Entrepreneurs“, a Barron’s article about the launch of the Lab.
- Listen to the Money and Meaning episode on the Kauffman Foundation’s Capital Access Lab featuring Philip Gaskin and Agnes Dasewicz
- On Twitter, follow Melissa, 1863 Ventures and Ureeka
Money + Meaning is the official podcast of SOCAP. The series aims to expand the conversation around impact investing and strategies to finance and support social change while stimulating innovative and valuable new partnerships across sectors.