Women Launch New Food and Food Tech Fund Aimed at Increasing Diversity
By Lynda Kiernan, Global AgInvesting Media (March 9, 2021)
MIT alumnae Noramay Cadena and Shayna Harris have launched Supply Change Capital - a new venture firm dedicated to expanding opportunities for diverse entrepreneurs in food and foodtech through investment.
By 2045 more than half of Americans will be diverse, according to The Brookings Institute, however, less than 2.6 percent of venture funding in 2020 was committed to Latinx or Black entrepreneurs. Even more specifically, less than 3 percent of venture funding supported female founders in the foodtech space. Not only that, but bias, both explicit and implicit against female founders was noted by potential backers who exercised greater caution and required more data from female founders as compared to male founders.
"Multicultural founders are underrepresented in today's food system, despite having the fastest growing demographic in America," said Harris. "Latinx, Black, and Asian consumers are significantly more likely to reach for natural and organic foods. Their purchasing behavior is not only on trend, but it surpasses that of white Americans. However, the overwhelming majority of food brands are not founded or owned by entrepreneurs that match the consumer demographic."
As U.S. demographics evolve and the minority shifts into the majority by 2045, Harris and Cadena found that the investment opportunity in food will surpass $100 billion over the next two decades.
Together, with nearly four decades of experience as operators, community leaders, and investors, as well as five collective higher education degrees, Harris and Cadena feel they are uniquely positioned to capitalize upon the investment opportunity before them.
"There is an enormous opportunity right in front of us that is being overlooked in venture capital,” said Cadena. “Supply Change Capital is investing at the intersection of food, culture, and technology, helping catalyze the next generation of iconic brands authentic to women, people of color, LGBTQIA, immigrants, and more cross sections of the country."
With the goal of investing in the changing face of food, Supply Change Capital will focus on consumer brands founded by diverse and female entrepreneurs that have mainstream appeal, use sustainable ingredients, and that control the tech stack required to support their growth trajectory.
Barbara Clark, founder and president of The Impact Seat and an early supporter of Supply Change Capital, recognized the potential in Harris and Cadena and their investment mandate, saying, "The disruptions in the food supply chain have accelerated trends that the team at Supply Change Capital innately understand; changes in consumer behavior, demographic shifts, and the underlying technologies required. That's why Noramay and Shayna are so impressive. They have the right combination of skills to be 'smart money' in this fast moving industry."
- Lynda Kiernan is editor with GAI Media, and is managing editor and daily contributor for Global AgInvesting’s AgInvesting Weekly News and Agtech Intel News, and HighQuest Group's Oilseed & Grain News. She is also a contributor to the GAI Gazette. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.