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Arian Simone’s Fearless Fund is rallying support for Black female entrepreneurs

Arian Simone and Fearless Fund act as angel investors for women-owned businesses and serve as a resource for startups looking for education and grants.

According to a report from the First Round 10 Year Project established to fill the gap between individual angel investing and Series A investing, companies with a female founder perform 63 percent better on average than male-founded teams. Arian Simone, founder and CEO of the Fearless Fund, the nation’s first venture-capital firm founded by women of color to invest exclusively in companies owned by women of color is a prime example that the tenets expressed in the report are valid. No stranger to the world of investment strategies for minority companies, Simone hails from a family of savvy businesswomen who determined that she would understand the importance of financial literacy and ownership before leaving home for college.

Simone received her MBA from Florida A&M, but she credits the many women over the years who have helped cultivate her multilayered knowledge of business and finance. She used her mentors’ wisdom to refine the formula for success and share it with other women entrepreneurs to start and expand their own business endeavors.

“Black women have always made a way out of no way. When we couldn’t go to the bank, we’ve often gone to the cash in the mattress,” Simone laughs. “My maternal grandmother was a domestic and she would listen to what the people she worked for were doing and asked their financial advisers to put her money in the same stocks and bonds that the people she worked for were doing. She might not have had as much as them, but she amplified what she had. Through her creativity and innovation she was able to send my mother — and all of her children — to school.”

Simone is proud of her legacy and boasts that her family is part of a rich history of resilient business-minded women who have consistently advocated for the Black business community.

“Within women of color, Black women in particular are the fastest growing demographic. People often ask me why, and I always say, ‘That’s nothing new.’ Our situations and our circumstances have historically been the catalyst for our creativity. A lot of this comes from the fact that Black women have always had to be earners and haven’t always had the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom. Some of this isn’t by choice, some is by force. Some are being innovative by choice and others are being creative to bring additional streams of revenue into their homes because it’s needed,” Simone explains.

Arian Simone's Fearless Fund is rallying support for Black female entrepreneurs
Arian Simone gives remarks in front of the Supreme Court. (Photo credit: Bill Lee)

After owning multiple businesses, including a successful PR and marketing agency, and founding Fearless Magazine as well as the Fearless platform in 2010, Simone decided to honor a promise she made to herself in her early 20s and to focus on giving other women of color an opportunity to fund their futures and build their legacies.

“The origin of the Fearless Fund came from a promise I made [to] myself in college. I owned a mall-based retail store, and I experienced what it was like to raise capital. I would go in dressed in my suit with my business plan and it was a horrible experience. I told myself that one day I would be the business investor that I was looking for. The Fearless Fund is that promise fulfilled,” Simone says.

In the span of a few short years, Simone’s Fearless Fund has attracted national attention having invested over $27 million in 44 companies, including the Atlanta-based restaurant chain Slutty Vegan, and the cosmetics company The Lip Bar.

“We invest in women of color co-founded businesses, product businesses and tech businesses. We invest in multiples of industries from food and beverage to beauty, to health to fintech, you name it, we’re supporting it,” Simone explains.

“Currently, we are backed by JPMorgan Chase, Mastercard, PayPal Ventures, Bank of America, Costco, Allied Bank and a host of others. Prior to our existence, the average fund range for a Black-owned female-led business was $30K. We came on the scene cutting seven-figure checks,” she shares with pride.

The success of the Fearless Fund has garnered second looks and sideways glances from lawmakers and politicians who see financial empowerment for minority women as a threat. After the June 2023 Supreme Court ruling overturning the use of affirmative action in college admissions, the American Alliance for Equal Rights, a nonprofit headed by Edward Blum turned its attention to the Fearless Fund. Simone was understandably upset when she learned the organization was being sued.

“It felt like a bad dream. Obviously, we’ve been caught in the crosshairs of something much bigger than the Fearless Fund,” she admits.

On Sept. 30, 2023, the U.S. Court of Appeals blocked a number of the Fearless Fund’s investment efforts on the grounds that the program was racially exclusionary and substantially likely to violate federal laws prohibiting racial discrimination in contracting.

“The truth is I believe Edward Blum and I have the same ultimate goal. We both want a country without racial discrimination. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet, which is why the Fearless Fund is necessary,” Simone says emphatically.

David Sampson, legal counsel for the Fearless Fund, explained the importance of the ruling at a press conference following the September hearing.

“If the Fearless Fund is not allowed to give grants to Black women consistent with their mission, it calls into question every other charitable organization doing the same thing. That’s why this case is important to them and why it should be important to everyone else in this country,” he said.

Arian Simone's Fearless Fund is rallying support for Black female entrepreneurs
Arian Simone on stage at VC Summit with Jessica Alba. (Photo credit: Kayla Madonna)

Simone says 2023 was beyond stressful for the organization, but she and her team are committed to fighting for women of color. As she and her team wait for a verdict in the ongoing case, the conscientious investor stresses the importance for the entire business community to educate themselves on not only this case, but many others with similar circumstances that have occurred over the last few years.

“It’s important that we get involved and pay attention to what is happening politically in our country,” Simone says. “We’ve seen Roe v. Wade overturned and affirmative action [challenged]. But when you start affecting a person’s money, you are infringing on their right to earn a living and create a legacy for their families. We can’t let that happen.”

For more information regarding Arian Simone and the Fearless Fund, visit

Cover photo credit: JLavii Photography

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