Harlem Capital Seeks To Raise $150 Million To Fund Diverse Founders

Harlem Capital, a Black-led venture capital firm, is seeking to raise $150 million, which would top its previous high of $134 million, which it set in 2021. The firm was founded in 2019 by Henri Pierre-Jacques and Jarrid Tingle in an informal manner as both men were angel investors in start-ups, real estate, and non-technology businesses. Eventually, the two pooled their efforts in Harvard Business School and shifted into venture-style investing into underserved entrepreneurs. 

As Tech Crunch reports, Harlem Capital filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission indicating that they intend to raise a sum of $150 million. In contrast to the two previous funding cycles, the climate and appetite for this round of investment could be hampered by the current backlash to the diversity and inclusion initiatives birthed out of the murder of George Floyd. 

According to Pitchbook, Harlem Capital currently manages $174 million in assets and has made over 80 investments into companies which includes Propane.ai, Poolit, a fin-tech company, and e-Gander, an e-commerce platform. 

Pierre-Jacques told Forbes in 2021 that when they started the fund, there were no other companies that focused on companies run by Black founders and other people of color. “There were no other funds that were racially focused with diverse people at the top,” Pierre-Jacques said. “So we felt like we had to start it ourselves.”

However, since that beginning, there are now several Black-owned venture capital firms operating in that space, including Fearless Fund, whose focus on Black and women-owned companies has drawn the ire of conservatives due to that emphasis. Conservatives allege that the focus of the Fearless Fund on those groups amounts to reverse racism and have challenged the fund using much the same argument that conservatives made to get affirmative action overturned by the Supreme Court in 2023. 

In a January op-ed for IHRB, Sauli Tripathy described the fundamental hypocrisy in the conservative backlash to diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Whether it is the collapse of Enron, the accounting scandal at Worldcom, the recent conviction of Sam Bankman-Fried, the Ponzi scheme of Bernie Madoff, the accounting scandal at Tyco, or the disinformation campaign about the health effects of smoking by tobacco companies, Union Carbide’s Bhopal gas disaster in 1984, BP’s Deepwater oil spill, the opioid crisis and Purdue Pharma, all these cases showed unethical, negligent, or illegal conduct in well-known companies led usually by white men. None of these CEOs were beneficiaries of DEI policies or affirmative action. And yet, there has not been an outcry from anyone saying men who happen to be white, and are from elite universities, should be barred from senior positions.”

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