A law firm is offering pro-bono legal services and business support to Black-led enterprises during a time when COVID-19 could make access to funding and related support even harder to gain.
The firm providing legal advice to Black-led businesses
New York-based firm Morrison & Foerster has launched the “Black Venture Accelerator” (BVA), which will offer business advice and support and legal counsel to scale these businesses, which is useful during the pandemic period where startups are under pressure to innovate or get left behind.
Black-led businesses across the industries are invited to apply for a chance of becoming part of the accelerator, including those operating in the tech, healthcare, retail, media, and real estate sectors.
The venture is a godsend for Black-led enterprises that are statistically less likely to access funding and associated forms of business support in the US and UK.
Businesses that gain a spot on the accelerator, on the other hand, will be offered “mentorship, educational resources, networking opportunities, and connections to other professional services.”
The accelerator is the latest in a series of CSR drives from Morrison & Foerster, whose clients include Fortune 100 companies and investment banks. But the initiative is more than a box-ticking exercise to acknowledge the Black Lives Matter movement or Black History Month, as D&I appears to be in their company DNA.
While they already have a good social-impact record and have provided pro-bono services for civil rights purposes and represented veterans and asylum seekers, and advocated for environmental safeguards and better education for poor children, they also practise what they preach on representation internally.
Formed in 2003, the firm’s Diversity Strategy Committee (DSC) encompasses “internal diversity, LGBTQ+, and women’s initiatives”, which aims to aid the recruitment, training, mentorship, and retention of diverse staff where the organisation’s committee members are also diverse in terms of ethnicity and gender.
Speaking about the launch of the new accelerator, Morrison & Foerster corporate partner and leader of the Black Venture Accelerator Dario de Martino said: “Black entrepreneurs have had to confront economic under-inclusion and unfair obstacles to full participation in the economy for too long.
“We believe access—not just to legal or professional services, but also networks—is a cornerstone of inclusion. The Black Venture Accelerator will build on this commitment as we work together to demonstrate the importance of shaping a culture that respects and celebrates differences.”
The application deadline for businesses is March 19, 2021. Visit the M&F website for more information.