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Published December 7, 2020
Published December 7, 2020
Black Ambition

Producer and rapper Pharrell Williams is coupling his entrepreneurial spirit and activism with the launch of Black Ambition, an incubator for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs launching start-ups in tech, design, healthcare, and consumer products.

WHO: Pharrell Williams has launched Black Ambition, a nonprofit initiative working towards closing the opportunity and wealth gap through entrepreneurship. They invest capital and resources in high-growth start-ups in tech, design, healthcare and consumer products founded by Black and Latinx HBCU students and entrepreneurs.

IN THEIR OWN WORDS: “Recent events and tragedies have illustrated the always existent stark divisions in the American experience, and while entrepreneurship has long been a tenet of the American dream, marginalized people have faced long-standing barriers to success,” said Pharrell Williams. “With Black Ambition, the goal is to help strengthen the pipeline of talented entrepreneurs and close the opportunity and wealth gaps derived from limited access to capital and resources.”

“White VC founders and those in private equity represent north of 80% of people who receive funding, while African Americans represent less than 1%. Whether it’s a $15,000 prize or a $250,000 prize, if founders win something, they’re going to get the mentorship and strategic scaffolding,” Williams told Forbes. ”We are setting founders up for the odds to be in their favor, that’s the game-changer here.”

“Part of what Black Ambition is going to do is say ‘here are folks that are investable and will be creating the next big companies of the future,’” Willa Seldon, partner at Bridgespan, a philanthropic and nonprofit consulting firm partnering with Black Ambition, said. “Venture capitalists are becoming more diverse but there’s still not capital going to those new venture players. Mainstream VCs are also interested in doing more about this, it’s also a huge market opportunity.”


  • Pharrell Williams has launched an incubator for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs launching start-ups in tech, design, healthcare, and consumer products.
  • Partners include Adidas, Chanel, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation, Tony’s Chocolonely, and the Visa Foundation.
  • Individual donors include Ron Conway / SV Angel and Jonah Peretti.
  • Mattel is releasing a product created in partnership with Black Ambition in the coming weeks, and Tony’s Chocolonely is making a special Black Ambition chocolate bar with a portion of proceeds from both products benefiting the nonprofit initiative.
  • As part of the launch, Williams announced two prize competitions—The Black Ambition HBCU Prize and The Black Ambition Prize – which culminate in one major national event.

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