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During and immediately after the summer of 2020 as the United States witnessed injustice stemming from centuries of racism, major pledges and promises were made for policy changes and funding commitments to Black causes. At the time, many programs and funds were developed to support underestimated entrepreneurs (female founders, founders of color, etc.), grow new Limited Partners (investors) who were proximate to the issues, and provide fast capital to new startups and organizations tackling inequities and social justice.
Fast forward to this year when we see that most of those funding commitments have never materialized. Plus, other funding streams have dried up and VCs are holding on to capital due to the uncertain economy. This is happening at a time when many of these startups that received capital in 2020 are scaling up to a point when they now need their next round of funding to survive and grow. The Kauffman Foundation reported that nearly two-thirds (65%) of new businesses will use personal and/or family savings to cover their start-up costs. Without an innovative source of capital to provide a “bridge” round to get them through this tough period over the next few years, many underestimated entrepreneurs will close their doors.
During this unsettling period, we are committed to fostering innovation and supporting underestimated entrepreneurs and proximate founders in the startup and growth ecosystem. We are building an alliance of companies and organizations supporting promising impact entrepreneurs through equity crowdfunding campaigns (community rounds) on Wefunder. The ARC Fund addresses the growing need for alternative funding sources in this challenging economy, especially for entrepreneurs who often face barriers accessing traditional venture capital.
Landscape Overview

One of the most significant issues in the startup world is the underrepresentation of women and entrepreneurs of color in venture capital funding. Studies have consistently shown that these groups face systemic biases that hinder their ability to secure investment. Equity crowdfunding can help bridge this gap by providing these founders with a more accessible path to capital.

Statistics indicate that only a small percentage of venture capital funding goes to female and minority-led startups. By supporting our initiative, you have the opportunity to make a substantial impact on increasing these percentages and promoting diversity and inclusion within the startup ecosystem.

In 2021, female founders received 2% of all VC dollars – which was the lowest percentage since 2016. And since 2011, the highest that statistic has ever been was 2.7%. In 2020, Black and Latinx founders only represented 2.6% of all VC funding ($2.3BN).
Pre-seed funding in female founders has fallen by 41%, in relative terms, from 2020 to 2023 according to Carta.
Funding raised by Black founders accounts for 0.95% of the total $17.3B VC funding invested in the U.K.
Nearly 20% of all startups have raised money at a lower valuation than they had previously, according to equity management company Carta. That’s up from 5% in 2021.
Venture capital funding for startups across the globe has fallen by more than half since last year, according to new Pitchbook data – the annual fundraising figure for 2023 is pacing towards its lowest level since 2015.
Venture capitalists are sitting on a record amount of “dry powder” according to PitchBook.
More startups have shut down in the third quarter of 2023 since Carta began tracking the data almost five years ago. So far this year, 543 startups on Carta’s platform have shuttered.
The carnage is so bad that some insiders are calling this an extinction-level event for startups.

Access to capital has become even more critical for early-stage impact entrepreneurs:

  • In 2023, 70% of VC investments went to companies that were already in the growth or expansion stage, leaving early-stage startups, particularly social impact-oriented ones, struggling to attract capital.
  • While there has been a growing trend of impact investing in recent years, the pandemic and economic uncertainties have somewhat slowed down its momentum. In 2023, impact investing is expected to decrease by 10%, compared to its peak in 2021.
  • By the end of 2022, adverse market conditions led to a 36% drop in overall VC dollars, but Black entrepreneurs saw a 45% decrease in financing.

Equity crowdfunding, through platforms like Wefunder, offers a powerful solution to this issue. It democratizes investing and access to funding, allowing a diverse range of investors, including individuals who believe in the mission and vision of the entrepreneurs, to participate in their success. It fosters a sense of community engagement and financial inclusion that traditional venture capital often lacks.

  • Start-ups with female founders represent between 10% and 15% of all investor crowdfunded deals since 2020, and startups with founders of color represent between 10% and 28% of all investor crowdfunded deals since 2020.
  • When looking at equity crowdfunding success percentages, campaigns run by women-only founders had an 87.5% success rate compared to 41% for men-only founders. Minority-only founders also had a higher success rate (46%) than men-only founders.
Benefits of the Alliance
We think the ARC Fund presents a clear opportunity to make a significant difference in the lives of impact entrepreneurs, while also promoting diversity and inclusion in the startup ecosystem.
Positive Impact
By supporting these entrepreneurs, you will play a vital role in addressing systemic inequities in the startup funding world. In particular, this initiative links arms with impact entrepreneurs while in the trenches of raising capital.
Brand Alignment
This initiative aligns with your commitment to social responsibility and innovation, enhancing your reputation as a leader in elevating entrepreneurs and reimagining the power of people and capital, particularly in changing the narrative on who gets funded.
Leadership Role
You have the unique opportunity to deepen your position as an architect in the impact ecosystem by building an alliance to re-think capital raising that includes a cross-section of funders and entrepreneurship programs.
Increased ROI
By supporting a wider range of impact-focused ventures through equity crowdfunding, and with a 2024 goal of 30 founders each raising a minimum of $250,000, the returns could yield $7.5MM+ in capital during the first year.
Program Overview
The ARC Fund is jointly supported by an alliance of companies, foundations, and organizations committed to elevating equity crowdfunding as an alternative source of capital for underestimated entrepreneurs and proximate founders. SIS Omni acts as the organizer and fund administrator working directly with impact entrepreneurs to implement equity crowdfunding rounds.
There are three options to get involved:
As a Patron Partner
The 2024 goal is to support 30 impact entrepreneurs in their three-month equity crowdfunding rounds. The aim is to partner with an alliance of financial supporters (Patrons) each funding three impact entrepreneurs. Each impact entrepreneur will raise between $250,000-$5MM, so your investment has the potential for at least a 10x of positive financial returns for the startup.
Patron Partners include:
As a Pipeline Partner
Each Pipeline Partner is asked to nominate a certain number of their portfolio impact entrepreneurs for consideration to move through a crowdfunding round. Broader community Pipeline Partners have the opportunity to support impact entrepreneurs going through crowdfunding rounds by acting as thought leaders, mentors, advisors, connectors, fractional executives, and more.
In collaboration with:
Pipeline Partners include:
As a Promoter Partner (Ambassador)
Promoters and Ambassadors act as general supporters and evangelists in using the ARC Fund to highlight on social media, at convenings, in articles/op-eds, and elsewhere the importance of democratizing sources of capital and investing, and eliminating the gap that exists in funding entrepreneurs in order to force systems change in traditional VC. Promoters and Ambassadors also have special opportunities to come together virtually and in person as a powerful community of advocates for inclusive entrepreneurship and democratized investing and financing.
Meet the ARC Fund Ambassadors
Become a Partner or Ambassador