In the world of venture capital, only 2.2% of funding goes to women-led startups. It’s even harder for women of colour (WOC) founded businesses. According to ProjectDiane, a biennial demographic study of Black women founders, Latinx women-led startups raised 0.04% of the $424.7 billion in total tech VC funding raised since 2009, while Black women raised just .06%.
Despite the huge funding gap, Black women are diving into entrepreneurship. In the US, the number of startups founded by Black women has doubled since 2016 and the number of Black women founders who have raised over $1 million in funding has grown from 12 in 2015 to 34 in 2017.
In May, amid economically challenging times thanks to COVID-19 pandemic, Shontay Lundy joined the club; securing a $1 million investment from a private source for her company Black Girl Sunscreen.
In 2016, fed up with sunscreens that left white residue on her skin, Miami-based Lundy set about to formulate a sunscreen that was effective in protecting the skin from the sun’s harsh UV rays, contained no nasty chemicals and could be worn under makeup. Her determination paid off and Black Girl Sunscreen was born.
Black Girl Sunscreen’s revolutionary product for women of color is cruelty-free, vegan, reef-safe, paraben-free, fragrance-free, water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and made from natural ingredients such as avocado, jojoba, aloe and cocoa butter which help moisturise skin with melanin.
The business has released just two products so far, SPF30 and Kids SPF50, and both are currently stocked in independent shops as well as 200 Target stores across the United States, providing national exposure for the vegan brand.
According to a Forbes article, after months vetting potential partners, Lundy partnered with a private female investor, subsequently raising the company’s valuation to $5 million.
“I worked hard for three years,” Lundy tells Forbes. “We created a groundbreaking product for an underserved market that resonated with our community. Black Girl Sunscreen brought awareness and shifted a mindset around people of colour wearing sunscreen.”
While research shows that skin cancer is not as common in darker skinned people than fairer skinned folks, it is a fallacy to assume that people with darker skin tones don’t get skin cancer. Research from the United States found that although people of colour are less likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer, when they are, it’s usually at a more advanced stage. The study also showed that POC are much more likely to die from skin cancer due to delays in detection and presentation.
In short; black people and people of colour need to wear sunscreen too.
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Cover image of Shontay Lundy via Black Girl Sunscreen.