LinkedIn’s Jacqueline Jones, enjoys Bronze Valley’s “She. Is. Ready.” event at the 2018 Essence Festival.She. Is. Ready.

She. Is. Ready.

That was the theme of a July 7 celebration of black women succeeding in technology fields. The event was in New Orleans, during the 24th annual Essence Festival, a music, entertainment and cultural event that celebrates black women.

Approximately 150 people attended the event, co-hosted by Bronze Valley. The purpose was to connect tech investors, entrepreneurs and industry leaders for conversations about potential business opportunities. Among the notable attendees were Kwame Anku, founding principal of the Black Angel Tech Fund; Jeannine Carter, head of diversity engagement for Facebook; Jacqueline Jones, who leads strategic partnerships, diversity and inclusion for LinkedIn; and media personality Roland Martin.

“We were proud to take a moment during the nation’s largest and longest-running celebration of black women to honor technology entrepreneurs and technology leaders who are changing the face of business with every success,” said John O. Hudson, chairman of the Bronze Valley board of directors.

“But it takes all of us to support them,” Hudson added, pointing out both the opportunities and challenges currently facing black women who aspire to be business owners or to advance in technology-related fields.

Black women are the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in America. According to a 2015 story in Fortune magazine, over the past two decades, the number of businesses owned by black women has grown by more than 300 percent, or nearly seven times the national average. At the same time, Hudson said, only about one-half of 1 percent of black women receive funding for their startups.

Jeannine Carter (l), head of diversity engagement for Facebook, enjoys the “She. Is. Ready.” event with Candice Willard-Fletcher, client services manager for GetWell Network.

Changing those numbers, in the Southeast and across the country, is the mission of the nonprofit Bronze Valley. Launched early in 2018, the organization is working to create a pipeline to success for black women and other communities historically underrepresented in technology careers and in fields where innovators will create the future.

“The spirit of Bronze Valley is to make opportunities in technology more reflective of those who deserve a stake in the new economy,” Hudson said. “We hope this event creates connections that turn into capital, and relationships that turn into revenue.”