Closing the Racial Wealth and Opportunity Gap Through Startup Innovation

From a space-as-a-service app for the beauty industry to health expense-saving solutions, six fintechs join the Mastercard Start Path In Solidarity program to grow their businesses

In the startup ecosystem, availability of seed and angel investments is crucial to startup growth. In the U.S., startups with at least one Black founder receive a lower percentage of deal counts and venture dollars. In fact, Black-founded startups have only received 1.1% of venture funding over the last several years. To help change this and achieve full inclusive growth, everyone must have the same opportunities to access the physical, virtual and social networks that drive the modern economy. Providing underinvested founders with funding and direct access to channels to fuel their business can catalyze economic growth.

Investing in fintechs led by underrepresented founders is one of many ways that Mastercard is using its assets to address the racial wealth and opportunity gap in America. Through its award-winning global startup engagement program, Start Path, the In Solidarity pathway is dedicated to supporting early- to mid-stage startups led by Black founders.

Mastercard considers grants or investments in participating startups on a case-by-case basis to ensure they have access to the funding they need to advance and scale their business. The companies receive stage-relevant support, including enterprise partnership readiness training, a dedicated mentor and introductions to investors and Mastercard customers. Throughout the program, the founders also have opportunities for technology collaboration and forums to pitch their solutions to prospects.

This programming is part of Mastercard’s In Solidarity commitment of $500 million in products, services, technology and financial support to help close the racial wealth and opportunity gap in America.

“Mastercard is taking meaningful action to advance inclusion and equality by focusing on the needs of underserved communities and helping Black-founded fintechs scale through hands-on mentorship, training and direct access to potential partners to grow their business,” said Salah Goss, senior vice president, Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth. “The Start Path In Solidarity program builds on our longstanding efforts towards equity and inclusion and puts a great focus on supporting Black tech founders as we move well beyond our $500 million commitment.”

Mastercard has engaged nearly 360 startups from 43 countries through Start Path since the program was founded in 2014. Today, many of these companies are entering the public markets, reaching unicorn status and entering extended commercial engagements with Mastercard and its customers. 

The following fintechs are joining the 21 companies already part of the Start Path In Solidarity program to scale new products and solutions across industries – from beauty and healthcare to security and energy conservation:

Allison (Birmingham, Ala.): Enables community banks and credit unions to onboard new deposits by launching regulatory compliant products and services, using minimal code

“We plan to continuously innovate and enhance our platform to ensure we remain at the forefront of regulatory technology, leading the way for more inclusive and efficient financial services worldwide.”

Brian Alvarez-Bailey (BABz), co-founder and CEO

Binkey (Washington, D.C.): Unlocks the future of savings and payments for patients and health care consumers

“In the next few years, Binkey will play a critical role in auto-substantiation of healthcare payments and serve as the key to unlocking benefits for patients and healthcare consumers in real time. With Binkey, the friction synonymous with flexible spending account (FSA) payments will become a thing of the past.”

Obi Ohiaeri, CEO

Cyvatar (Irvine, Calif.): Accelerates the future of cybersecurity through smart, measurable managed security subscriptions that turbocharge compliance and fortify business defense

“With groundbreaking innovations and a relentless pursuit of excellence, Cyvatar is reshaping the cybersecurity industry, turning adversaries into spectators and empowering our clients to navigate the digital realm with unyielding confidence.”

Corey White, founder and CEO

Freeing Returns (Atlanta, Ga.): Offers nationwide retailers a total retail loss solution to maximize profitability and efficiency

“We are on a mission to put half a trillion dollars back into the hands of retailers by using the data they are already collecting and making it actionable and measurable – down to the penny!”

Barbara Jones-Brown, founder and CEO

Gemini Energy Solutions (Washington, D.C.): Helps small business and nonprofits audit their energy usage to make positive change

“Over the next few years, Gemini will evolve to become a catalyst for clean energy transition in historically disadvantaged communities.”

Anthony Kinslow, founder and CEO

ShearShare (Buffalo, N.Y.): Provides space-as-a-service, usage-based insurance, and portable healthcare for the second largest industry for freelancers and independent contractors

“By redefining the future of work, ShearShare will evolve to provide diverse enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions for niche markets with customers that are primarily other businesses.”

Courtney Caldwell, co-founder and CEO

Media contact: Jen Langione, Mastercard Global Communications, (917) 408-2941, jen.langione@mastercard.com