Alfred Duncan ’98 wrote and performed the song “BLM Plaza” with Steve Roy in 2020 amidst a rise in awareness about racial injustice and during a global pandemic that affected businesses of every size. The chorus features the repetition of the line “Breaking bread, making plans, building with my brothers.” That sentiment and an alliance with the Black female entrepreneurship community Black Girl Ventures led Duncan and fellow former student-athletes Billy Blake ’99 and Shawn C. Williams and several of their colleagues to found Black Men Ventures. As successful Black men who are involved in multiple industries, including music, technology, banking and cybersecurity, the founders are perfectly situated to lead an organization that will inspire others and give “unlimited access to capital” to Black entrepreneurs.
Intended to be the “plug” to community and provide capital for Black male entrepreneurs nationwide, Black Men Ventures, according to its website, “envision(s) a world where Black men founders have equitable access to professional and financial capital to meet business milestones that lead to sustainable economic advancement and narrow the wealth gap through entrepreneurship.”
As a newly formed organization, the founders hope to eventually provide a resource hub for Black male entrepreneurs worldwide.
Duncan’s goal is for Black Men Ventures to be “community-driven” and “united under one cause.” It plans to host many events, starting with a quarterly pitch contest. The first will be held virtually on April 16, 2021, and participants will be judged and voted on by the audience, rather than by a panel of professionals. Voters will vote with their dollar, which will mean a monetary investment for the contestants even if they don’t win. Pitch contest participants will also receive guidelines and feedback on their businesses as a part of their entry into the competition, ensuring that they always get something out of being involved.
Black Men Ventures is currently pending nonprofit status and is seeking donations to continue building its community.
Duncan ends the last verse of his song, “BLM Plaza,” with “And our people need us, We can’t let them fight this battle alone,” which certainly signals to Black men that he and Black Men Ventures are there for them and are committed to their success.