Having worked in tech for many years for the likes of Wells Fargo and Kohl’s, Lisha Bell was struck by the continued lack of diversity.
“I sat with engineers all day, and in 15 years I was usually the only Black or the only woman,” she says. “I realized nothing would change unless I did my part to change the system.”
So Bell co-founded BLXVC, an angel investing firm that provides capital to women of color entrepreneurs. Since 2020, the firm has invested in startups producing everything from cruelty-free cosmetics to platforms that connect Black women with culturally sensitive healthcare providers.
“I started BLXVC because few women of color have a substantial amount of assets to distribute or invest in,” Bell says. “Ninety percent of our cap table is people of color and 90% is women. We’re funding our own movements,” she says.
Besides running BLXVC, Bell also manages PayPal’s $100 million Economic Opportunity Fund—part of the company’s $535 million commitment to strengthen minority communities nationwide. The fund is the brainchild of Bell and colleagues who proposed the idea to PayPal executives in response to the Black Lives Matter movement and the pandemic’s disproportionate effect on minority-owned small businesses.
Bell’s work these days is precisely the kind of difference she was hoping to make.
“My daughter will have a little less weight to carry, a little less fighting to do because of some of these barriers that I’ve been trying to break for Black women,” she says. “Those are the kinds of things I fight for.”