As a Morehouse, Berkeley and Harvard-educated man, a world of opportunities has been available to Nathan Bennett Fleming. Instead of starting his career by working on Wall Street or for some prestigious law firm, Fleming and five other partners decided to take a different path.

They are the co-founders of, which is a crowdfunding platform for ideas, projects, and causes connected to the African-American community.

Crowdfunding sites, the most famous of which is Kickstarter, allow people to use the power of networks to raise money using online tools for almost any type of project imaginable. Empowering the black community to pool its resources can help African-Americans channel some of its nearly trillion-dollar yearly spending power into sustaining black businesses.

Creating access for black businesses

“Access to resources and capital have been traditional problems to the African-American entrepreneurial community,” Fleming told theGrio. “Crowdfunding is a new technology that democratizes and expands access to capital. We haven’t seen that tool leveraged in a way that creates a significant value proposition in the black community. BlackStartup is an idea to address what we like to call the ‘black entrepreneurial gap,’ which is the fact that black entrepreneurs start businesses at a higher rate than non-minority groups, but we lag behind in owning sustainable operational businesses. Lack of capital is a main reason behind this lag.”

Fleming continued, “BlackStartup also solves the problem of social networks and social interaction. There is a lack of interaction with individuals and institutions that can help fund our businesses. This includes high net worth individuals, angel investors, and venture funds. Furthermore, access to education are causal factors behind the black entrepreneurial gap. On BlackStartup, we will have a knowledge center and will also incorporate a mentorship aspect in the site.”

The potential social impact of solving the undercapitalization of black businesses is what drew Fleming, who has a public policy degree from Harvard and a law degree from University of California, Berkeley, to entrepreneurship.

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