The stark reality about entrepreneurs of color is that their brilliance, ingenuity, and grit are boundless.

Values Partnerships leads a nationwide casting tour focused on bringing more diverse ideas and voices to ABC’s hit show Shark Tank.

In 2016, we hosted 12 casting calls in nine U.S. cities, engaging thousands of entrepreneurs. Incredible businesses led by black, Hispanic, women, veterans, and other entrepreneurs from communities underrepresented in the business world pitched to appear on Season 8 of Shark Tank.

Entrepreneurs such as Make Music Count CEO Marcus Blackwell Jr. in Atlanta and Spicy Dark Cosmetics CEO Julia Clavo in New Orleans pitched their businesses.

According to the latest stats from the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), entrepreneurship is on the rise in communities of color.

Minority-owned firms in the U.S. rose from 5.8 million in 2007 to 8.0 million in 2012; an increase from 22% to 29% of the total number of U.S. firms. However, while this is good news, 70% of U.S. businesses are owned or led by white men. That number increases even more when looking at businesses that employ more than one person.

This reality meant that for us, hosting casting calls for Shark Tank was not enough. Appearing on ABC’s Shark Tank is an amazing opportunity for entrepreneurs; just ask Sarah Ribner of PiperWai who pitched at our casting call at the NAACP Convention in 2015, appeared on Season 7, and struck a deal with Barbara Corcoran. However, we wanted to do more for the entrepreneurs at our events.

With the full support of Shark Tank and its producer, Mark Burnett, we endeavored to add value for the entrepreneurs at our events and the ecosystems that support them.

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