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New Pattern Utah: Supporting Black Women in Business

New Pattern Utah, a grant and mentorship program, is cultivating a largely overlooked and underfunded group of business owners — Black women

To understand why New Pattern Utah was launched in June of 2020 to support Black women business owners, all you have to do is look at the data and see what this group of entrepreneurs is up against. Less than half a percent of venture capital funding makes its way to Black women.footnote1 Yet Black women are founding businesses at more than twice the rate as all women entrepreneurs.footnote2

The goal of New Pattern Utah, a grant and mentorship program created by the Utah Black Chamber, Womenpreneurs, and the investment firms Beta Boom and Sorenson, is to improve those odds with direct access to capital and ongoing support. At the end of day, the mission is to foster more diversity in the state’s start-up community. “Founders often talk of the friends-and-family capital that got them started, and Black women entrepreneurs have the least amount of access to that,” says New Pattern Utah Director Aanjel Clayton (shown above). 

The program offers promising founders seed money and six months of consultations with mentors and coaches and access to resources that can help grantees grow their businesses. “We’re not just writing checks,” says Clayton. “We give financial advice on how to use the money and walk them through the fundraising process.” The ongoing education includes teaching founders how to pitch to VC firms and angel investors for future rounds of funding.

Alexi Fisher, founder of The Cocktail Collective

Alexi Fisher, founder of The Cocktail Collective

In less than two years, New Pattern Utah received more than 75 applications from Black women-owned businesses in the state. A panel of their peers judged the proposals. As of spring 2022, the program had awarded grants worth up to $10,000 each to nine Utah founders. Among them was Alexi Fisher (see inset), who in 2021 launched The Cocktail Collective, a bartending school that grew out of Fisher’s experience teaching mixology classes online during the pandemic. “This was a new industry and business model we had not seen before, especially for a Black woman,” says Clayton.

New Pattern Utah also supports a wider community of local Black women business owners with meet-ups and educational programs. In addition, New Pattern is expanding its reach, most recently by setting up a partner program in Chicago, with the goal of launching nationwide in 2023. As part of a long standing commitment to advance racial equality and economic opportunity, Bank of America is taking an innovative approach— investing in mission focused venture funds such as Beta Boom to help entrepreneurs and business owners establish and grow their businesses, create jobs, and improve financial stability in Utah and beyond. “Private support like that from Bank of America is the heart and fuel that keeps this whole thing going,” says Clayton.


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