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Black History Month is a time for reflection and action. It is also a time for celebration: the work of numerous Black investors, entrepreneurs, philanthropists, and corporate leaders has played a major role in transforming lives, creating jobs, and laying the groundwork for a more just future.

Amid important conversations about the work we still must do to create a truly equitable society, we also want to honor progress whenever possible — and there is a lot to be optimistic about. Black women are one of the fastest-growing groups of entrepreneursCorporate board diversity and investments in Black founders (and the organizations supporting them) are increasing.

And crucially, we are heartened to see leaders across the country not just dismantling the barriers in their path, but creating roadmaps to equity for others to follow. As the fearless Mellody Hobson wrote last year, “[My firm] is a symbol, and I need that symbol to be successful so that maybe others will want to be in the business we’re in. They’ll see us and say, 'They did it, I can do it.'”
 
 
 
 
FEARLESS FEATURE
 
 
 
 
Successful entrepreneurs who give back are not a new phenomenon. In the late 19th century, Madam C.J. Walker became the country’s first Black female millionaire through her innovative line of hair care products for Black women. As highlighted in Be Fearless, while Walker was growing the market for her business, she was also teaching other young Black women about business and providing them with opportunities to generate income for themselves. She continued her empowerment efforts through her philanthropic work. Her famous saying was, “I got my start by giving myself a start.”
 
 
 
 
IMPACT INVESTING
 
 
 
 
Gender & Climate Goes Public
With its appearance this week on the Singapore stock exchange, a $30 million bond became the world’s fourth “gender lens bond” to go public. The bond, listed by the Impact Investing Exchange, is the latest in a $150 million series of debt securities for women-focused and climate-friendly social enterprises throughout southeast Asia.
 
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Measuring and Managing Impact
A new study from Accenture offers strategies for companies to better measure and manage their ESG performance. Not surprisingly, the study also shows a strong positive correlation between ESG score and financial performance.
 
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INCLUSIVE ENTREPRENEURSHIP
 
 
 
 
The Latest Black-Led Unicorn
Esusu, which helps users leverage their rent payments to build or improve credit, has been valued at over $1 billion following their latest round of venture capital fundraising. The fintech company joins an exclusive list of Black-owned unicorns, including Calendly and Zepz.
 
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Social Enterprises Supporting Corporations
In a recent Harvard Business Review piece, Acumen’s Yasmina Zaidman and IKEA’s Åsa Skogström Feldt explored how working with social enterprises can help large companies reach their ESG goals.
 
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BEFORE YOU GO
 
 
 
 
Unplugged Getaways
Ready for an off-the-grid adventure? Airstream’s forthcoming EV trailers will be outfitted with solar panels that can keep them powered for up to two weeks without plugging into anything else.
 
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Innovating on Campus
As the spring semester kicks off, many colleges and universities are hosting pitch competitions to find the next generation of innovators and, increasingly, investing in ESG bonds.
 
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