Kathryn Finney: Using Innovation to Empower Women of Color
Through her Atlanta-based social enterprise, digitalundivided, Finney is helping to connect black and Latina women entrepreneurs, offering them opportunities to innovate and grow.
Kathryn Finney has been an entrepreneur all her life. First, there was what she calls “a lucrative friendship bracelet business” that she started in elementary school. Later, she became one of the very first lifestyle bloggers when she started the Budget Fashionista blog and media company.
If the thirtysomething Finney were a different kind of person, her digital career might have ended after her participation in a tech incubator program that, she says, made her feel “invisible” for the first time in her life. “I was told by the head of that incubator program that he’d never met a black woman who’d ever received venture funding, and the likelihood of me ever receiving funding was zero, and so I should leave the program,” she told attendees at the 2016 Forbes Women’s Summit.
Finney did leave that incubator program — and a few years later, she started one of her own: digitalundivided (DID), a social enterprise that uses innovation to foster the growth and empowerment of black and Latina women entrepreneurs. In 2016, DID launched the BIG (as in “go big or go home”; it’s not an acronym) Innovation Center in Atlanta, a collaborative workspace that houses an incubator for tech-enabled start-ups. Last year, BIG won the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2015–2016 Growth Accelerator Fund Competition.