If you want a problem fixed, sometimes you gotta do it yourself.
For the co-founders of Community Growth Ventures, Abi Mohamed and Emmanuel Aremu, the problem was the lack of infrastructure supporting women, people of color and other underrepresented minorities in the world of business investments, particularly tech startups. Community Growth Ventures is a group of angel investors in the U.K., primarily in London, that seek out innovative, compelling and disruptive new startups for investment, specifically those from underrepresented and underfunded communities.
There are countless brilliant, economical and ingenious entrepreneurs from minority groups whose business ventures are dismissed by the current investment ecosystem. Abi, Emmanuel, and their partner co-founders Abigail Osundun and Denzel Walters, resolved to change the status quo and find a way marginalized groups could scale, grow and get the investment needed to build their futures.
Emmanuel, Abi and their team knew that communities across the U.K stood to benefit from increased commitment to underrepresented founder communities. A lot of founders are trying to improve their own local communities, and a founder who gets a big break may be able to give back to their neighborhood in a way that wasn’t possible in the past.
Abi and Emmanuel had identified the problem they wanted to address: Shrink the gap in funding for underrepresented tech startup founders so they can help change their communities, the U.K. and the world for the better. So where does one start?
“We felt like there wasn’t any organization or people helping people that look like us in the ecosystem, so that’s why we started CGV,” Abi explains. “Currently right now, people are investing in people that they feel are not that risky, people that came from Stanford, Oxford, Cambridge, and investing in them saying they are the right people that can get acquired or IPO. Our mission is to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to be investable and grow amazing businesses from now and in the future.”
So Abi, Emmanuel, and two other angel investors got together to form Community Growth Ventures to give these founders a shot at achieving their visions. The team connects with founders, reviews proposals, listens to pitches, and looks to fund ideas, hoping to have a positive impact on communities. And they’re doing this all as a side hustle. Why? Because when no one else is fixing the problem you want solved, you gotta do it yourself, even if that means adding another full-time job to your schedule.
Abi elaborates, “All of us at CGV have a 9-to-5 and we personally all feel dedicated working on CGV outside our day jobs. We’ve implemented tools to make sure we manage our time and also measure our work balance and leisure.”
So how does an angel syndicate stand out from the pack when you’re the new kids on the block? Community Growth Ventures knew their brand and audience were different than everything else in the tech investment scene and they wanted to shout it from the rooftops: If you have been ignored and overlooked by the status quo, Community Growth Ventures is here to listen.
“One of the hardest obstacles in starting CGV was just trying to get our name out there. I think when you’re a new group of angel investors on the scene, you’re trying to get to meet the founders and establish a relationship with investors, but what really helped us was that we focused on the value we bring to startups.” – Abi
While most investors are exclusive and operate behind closed doors, Community Growth Ventures wants to be as open as possible in order to encourage potential founders to reach out. Abi, Emmanuel and the team figured the easiest way to convey their openness and value to founders was through the cgventures.co website and domain name. Emmanuel elaborates,
“Our website is incredibly important to helping us communicate with founders, and communicate opportunities with other investors as well. Ultimately, it’s there to make sure people understand who we are because sometimes in the industry investor space people hide behind the shadows, but we want to take a different approach of being open and inclusive because that’s who the founders we work with are.”
The .CO in the domain is another factor that helps Community Growth Ventures distance themselves from the herd. It helps convey that Abi, Emmanuel and the team are up-to-date on current trends, tech-savvy and not your typical angel syndicate. It also helps that it’s a conversation starter and easy to remember.
“It just sticks in people’s mind. I’ve never had anyone complain about discovering our domain name,” Emmanuel confirms. “All the other options we had were a little too boring, too safe. We wanted to be more inclusive and open to people, and ultimately it helps us stand out from the crowd.”
While the domain and website certainly help Abi and Emmanuel stand out from the crowd, it’s the team’s dedication, tenacity and passion that continues to fuel their ongoing success and growth. And that’s not all, on top of countless hours and efforts behind Community Growth Ventures, the funding they use to invest in their founders comes from Abi, Emmanuel and their team personally. Community Growth Ventures is 100% self-funded.
Take note, hopeful entrepreneurs. Self-funded and self-motivated. That’s how Community Growth Ventures fuels their success: from within. That’s how much you have to believe in your new entrepreneurial business venture, or even that idea for a new side gig you’ve been tossing around lately. You have to apply yourself 100%. Because when you do, your cause will find a life all on it’s own. Kudos to Abi, Emmanuel and the rest of the Community Growth Ventures team. They gave themselves to a cause, the ripple effects of which will continue to lift up marginalized founders and the communities they call home. We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for these Good Samaritans of Investing.