It will come as no surprise to many of you that when it comes to business investment funding, Black women are often at the bottom of the pile. Joycelyn Mate and Rachael Corson, co-founders of Afrocenchix are tired of the status quo and speaking out about the inequality and challenges they have found in scaling up their business.
Afrocenchix is a multi award-winning natural hair care company for afro and curly hair. The duo started the company when they were both 19 with nothing but £50 each, scraped together from part time jobs at uni. Their huge vision has carried them through almost a decade of learning and developing to become the first brand for Afro Hair to launch in all UK Whole Foods stores last summer. In spite of their successes and accomplishments, they still struggle to gain access to the type of investment that would help take their business to the next level.
The tiny team of three full time staff and a carousel of interns currently make all of their products in-house. The company is now at a point where they are struggling to meet surging demand, even after a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year. On paper, they are ideal candidates for large scale investment to take the manufacturing out of their hands. Investment will allow them to grow the team and release new products their customers have been requesting for years. Despite having sold thousands of bottles to customers in more than 22 countries, finding investors to commit has proved to be a difficult task. Investors either claim it’s “too early” for investment or they just “don’t get” the problem.
In a statement, the ladies said: “Our experience, as well as the data, shows that it’s near impossible for Black women in business to get money to scale through traditional avenues. Especially if you are running a business that’s serving other Black British women. There has been a lot of talk recently about inequality in business investment for women, but Black women are often left out of the narrative.”
They continued: “We often watch “pre-revenue” White Oxbridge male peers receive millions in investment (and watch many go on to quit/fail) whilst we’re told “the market just isn’t big enough” or “the team lacks experience” despite the fact we’ve spent a decade changing a market valued at £4.2B in the UK alone. We’ve been quoted 20% and over for loans. We’ve had an investment offer from a competitor in the space, but it didn’t align with our values and the equity ask was massive, so we politely declined. We currently have some Angels and VCs considering our proposition but it’s important to raise money on our terms to achieve our aim of reclaiming the Afro Hair industry and ensuring that safe, effective and affordable products become the norm.”
“We often watch “pre-revenue” White Oxbridge male peers receive millions in investment (and watch many go on to quit/fail) whilst we’re told “the market just isn’t big enough” or “the team lacks experience” despite the fact we’ve spent a decade changing a market valued at £4.2B in the UK alone.”
The recent phenomenon of Rihanna’s domination of the beauty market through her Fenty Beauty brand shows the buying power of women of colour. It simply does not make financial sense to overlook tried and tested businesses like Afrocenchix.