Stefanie Thomas: Black Women VCs, Community Investing, and Closing the Opportunity Gap in America

Next Economy Now highlights the leaders who are taking a regenerative, bio-regional, democratic, transparent, and whole-systems approach to solving social and environmental challenges.

The goal of this podcast is to identify the trends, tips, and best practices that will help listeners better harness the power of business as a force for good.

In this episode, Ryan Honeyman, a Partner at LIFT Economy, interviews Stefanie Thomas, Senior Investment Associate at the Impact America Fund.

Stefanie joined the Impact America (IAF) team in 2015. As a member of IAF, Stefanie has emerged as a voice of “Black Female VCs” (Fast Company) who work at the intersection of founder diversity, technology for impact, and the deployment of capital within untapped markets.

Since 2013, Stefanie’s work has primarily centered around her passion to support under-resourced entrepreneurs, an ode to childhood memories of her father—a serial entrepreneur—who overcame tremendous challenges as an aspiring business owner, despite very limited secondary education and low-income beginnings.

Some of the inspired work that has resulted from Stefanie’s deep-rooted influences includes co-founding a female-centered entrepreneurship organization called Women Who Launch and traveling over 6,000 miles by car across the US to work with small businesses, landing her a feature on HLN’s “Growing America” docu-series.

Before shifting gears professionally, Stefanie served as a Vice President at Citigroup, managing more than 50 institutional investor relationships and leading finance transactions totaling over $1B in assets. Stefanie received her MBA from the Ross School at the University of Michigan and her B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. She currently resides in Washington, DC.

In this interview, Ryan and Stefanie discuss a number of topics, including:

  • Stefanie’s path to impact investing

  • The growth in black female entrepreneurs / VCs

  • How Impact America Fund is investing at the intersection of technology and underserved communities

  • The opportunity gap in America

  • The thought leaders, organizations, and books that Stefanie recommends learning more about

  • And much more

 

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Ryan Honeyman is a Partner at LIFT Economy and author of The B Corp Handbook: How to Use Business as a Force for Good (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). LIFT Economy is an impact consulting firm whose mission is to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life. You can follow Ryan on Twitter @honeymanconsult or email him ryan@lifteconomy.com.