NJEDA & digitalundivided showcase resources for Black & Latino Entrepreneurs

Members of New Jersey’s innovation community had the opportunity to learn about public and private resources available to entrepreneurs of color during a “Removing Barriers for Diverse Entrepreneurs” Instagram Live discussion on Wednesday that featured New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tim Sullivan and digitalundivided CEO Lauren Maillian. The chat also spotlighted the recently-proposed Black and Latino Seed Fund, which the NJEDA intends to create to drive capital to Black- and Latino-owned enterprises.


The innovation economy is facing a nationwide diversity crisis. According to Crunchbase, American companies raised a record-setting $150 billion in venture capital funding in 2020, but less than one percent of this went to Black-owned companies. The numbers are even worse for women. According to digitalundivided’s ProjectDiane, Black and Latina women received just 0.64 percent of total venture capital investment between 2018 and 2019.

During the event, Sullivan and Maillian spoke about ways their organizations are working to increase access to capital for minority-owned businesses and discussed initiatives created to empower Black and Latino founders, foster equitable entrepreneurship, and create the most diverse innovation ecosystem in the country.

“Reclaiming New Jersey’s position as the nation’s leader in innovation hinges on welcoming all entrepreneurs with original ideas to pursue their dreams,” Sullivan said. “Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, we’re working with our partners in the public and private sectors to close funding gaps that exist for far too many entrepreneurs of color and ensure that founders have the resources they need to succeed.”


newjerseyeda We were thrilled to team up w/ @digundiv for last night’s “Removing Barriers for Diverse Entrepreneurs” Instagram Live event! Couldn’t join us? Get details on resources for entrepreneurs of color & a link to a recording of the chat. Link in bio. #IGLive

Sullivan gave an overview of New Jersey’s proposed Black and Latino Seed Fund, which will focus on driving capital to Black- and Latino-owned enterprises. Governor Phil Murphy has proposed a $10 million Fiscal Year 2022 budget allocation to create the Fund. Crafted with input from Black and Latino founders, investors, and policy experts, this seed fund is an important step toward tearing down the institutional barriers that hold Black and Latino entrepreneurs back and replacing them with accessible resources that respond to these innovators’ unique needs.

The concept for the Fund resulted from a Request for Information (RFI) issued by the NJEDA last year to solicit input on ways to increase access to capital for Black- and Latino-led startups. The RFI sought input from a diverse range of stakeholders, including fund managers, angel investors, venture capitalists, small-business owners, researchers and practitioners involved in entrepreneurship work, industry and trade groups, and other states’ governments.

You might be interested: It will take two centuries for the gender wage gap to close for Latinas if we do nothing

Sullivan also outlined a comprehensive suite of initiatives advanced by Governor Murphy to foster equitable entrepreneurship and create the most diverse innovation ecosystem in the country. This includes adding new bonuses to:

It also includes adding a diversity bonus to the NJEDA’s own venture investment plan, and an increased investment cap for investments in certified woman- or minority-owned businesses under the New Jersey Innovation Evergreen Fund, created under the Economic Recovery Act of 2020.  

During the Instagram Live chat, Maillian highlighted digitalundivided’s mission and resources it offers Black and Latina women entrepreneurs. digitalundivided is a non-profit, social startup that leverages data and advocacy to catalyze economic growth for Black and Latina entrepreneurs in innovation and technology. Maillian spoke about the groundbreaking programs they offer including  START 2021,  a three-week virtual program for Black and Latina women founders at the idea stage of their entrepreneurial journey. She also talked about BIG Pre-Accelerator, a fast-paced pre-accelerator program for high-potential, pre-revenue Black and Latina women-led startups, as well as the Do You Fellowship, which positions high-potential, innovative Black & Latina founders for growth by providing them with funding, professional development, and access to exclusive mentorship and resources.

“Responsibility falls on all players in the innovation ecosystem to break down the barriers that far too often impede the path to success for entrepreneurs of color,” Maillian said. “It’s important to keep having conversations like we had this week and to continue connecting diverse entrepreneurs with critical resources like the programming spearheaded by NJEDA and digitalundivided. Working together, we will encourage innovation in NJ and have a lasting impact on the nation’s economy.”

A recording of the Instagram Live chat can be found at

About the New Jersey Economic Development Authority

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) serves as the State’s principal agency for driving economic growth. The NJEDA is committed to making New Jersey a national model for inclusive and sustainable economic development by focusing on key strategies to help build strong and dynamic communities, create good jobs for New Jersey residents, and provide pathways to a stronger and fairer economy. Through partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders, the NJEDA creates and implements initiatives to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life in the State and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.

About digitalundivided

digitalundivided is a non-profit, social startup that leverages data and advocacy to catalyze economic growth for Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs in innovation and technology. Our goal is to create a world in which all women of color own their work. digitalundivided merges data and heart to change the trajectories of women’s lives. We are a connector and a catalyst, supporting Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs through best-in-class programming, mentorship, training, resources and investment. We offer unparalleled thought leadership in the space. And we bring together the shared experiences of our community to produce ground-breaking authoritative research on Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs. For more information, visit: and follow us on Twitter (@digundiv) and on Instagram and Facebook (@digitalundivided).

To learn more about NJEDA resources for businesses call NJEDA Customer Care at 609-858-6767 or visit and follow @NewJerseyEDA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

panel speakers

Leaders, influencers and entrepreneurs converge in NJ at 2019 Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch (EEL)

The first set of panel speakers including leaders, influencers and entrepreneurs for “Beauty, Health and Wealth: Taking Charge of Our Lives” event have been announced, giving an insight into our biggest and best EEL yet!

panel speakers

The 2019 Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch is hosted by Hudson County Community College.

The excitement is growing as we are getting closer to “Beauty, Health and Wealth: Taking Charge of Our Lives”  this year’s theme for the 2019 Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch. Organizational leaders, social media influencers and successful entrepreneurs have been tapped to gather at the Hudson County Culinary Conference Center,161 Newkirk Ave, Jersey City NJ 07306 on June 13, 2019 from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm(Registration, breakfast and networking starts at 8:00am )

“In addition to exceptional keynote and celebrity speakers, leaders, influencers and entrepreneurs from around the country are converging in Jersey City on June 13 to produce the most dynamic event for Latinas and other minority women entrepreneurs in the Northeast region. We continue with our goal to help them “Learn. Connect. Succeed!” and find the network and resources they need to advance their businesses,” said Susana G Baumann, President and CEO, Latinas in Business Inc.

Choose one workshop from each session at registration. Maximum capacity for each workshop is 35-40 participants on a first come, first serve basis. We reserve the right to move participants to other workshops on the same session if workshop is at full capacity so register soon!panelist speakers

EEL Panel speakers from around the country

From Los Angeles to Miami, Virginia to New York and New Jersey, participants at the workshops include the who’s who in this spectrum of leaders, influencers and successful entrepreneurs.

A new addition this year are the “talleres en español” (Spanish Workshops) where women will find information to start, grow or expand their businesses. “We had many requests from women who are just starting as entrepreneurs or would like to start a side business, so we added these talleres en español. In this way, we give them an opportunity to meet other successful women conducting their businesses and encourage them to  pursue their dreams,” Baumann said.

panel speakers

Some of the panel speakers announced  include organizational leaders Diana Franco, Director, Women Entrepreneurs of New York  (NYC), Trinidad de la Rosa, Spanish Language Manager at Rising Tide Capital (NJ), and Samantha (Unger) Katz, CEO & Co-Founder, Left Tackle Capital.

Also announced are social media influencers Stephanie Flor, founder, (NY); LeAura Luciano, EverSoPopular (NY); Sugey Palomares, Social Media manager, Family Circle (NY); and Danay Escanaverino, founder, LunaSol Media.

Entrepreneurs include Maria del Pilar Avila, founder Renovad and InterDUCTUS; Dr Ginny A. Baro, founder, Fearless Women @Work; Nelly Reyes, Founder and CEO, Freshie Feminine Care (NJ) ; Silvina Rodriguez Picaro, SRP Health Care Communications (FL), and Gladys Voghlan, co-founder, K&G Agency Solutions. (This is a partial list of speakers, more to be announced soon).

panel speakers

“We are grateful to Hudson County Community College and their new President, Dr. Chris Reber, for their constant support and hospitality. As a Hispanic-serving institution,  they are again co-hosting this magnificent event that showcases the best and most successful stories of Latinas and other women entrepreneurs building businesses, families and community around them,” Baumann said.

You might be interested:  2019 Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch announces keynote and celebrity speakers   

Workshops at 2019 Entrepreneur Empowerment Lunch

SESSION 1 (9:30 am to 10:30 am)

  1. Win the Marketing Battle: How to get your foot in the door with major buyers

What are large companies looking for in diverse suppliers? How can you market your products to major chains? Learn from entrepreneurs who sold their products to large companies and from companies with a solid supplier diversity program how you can sell your products to the general market.

  1. The Healthy Consumer Trend: What’s in it for me? 

Consumers’ health is front and center for those who churn out the food products that will line supermarket shelves in the next year. Selections like “organic,” “no added sugar or artificial ingredients,” “no-GMO,” or “gluten free” are now available to the consumer. Find out the trends that are disrupting the market and hear from companies and local incubators what you need to start or expand your healthy product business.

  1. The Wellness Industry: Users, providers and technology 

Mindfulness, clean eating, spas and essential oils— it’s all part of the wellness trend that’s growing faster than the veggies in your friend’s rooftop garden. The wellness industry is now worth over $3.7 trillion. Hear from these entrepreneurs how they founded and expanded their wellness businesses, how technology is helping them grow and expand, and how they are riding the wellness wave.

  1. Incubadoras: Oportunidades para negocios entre 1 y 3 años 

Cuando se comienza un negocio no basta tener una idea; es necesario gestar un plan que proyecte el desarrollo y la ejecución del emprendimiento. Las incubadoras son excelentes herramientas para impulsar el nacimiento de empresas, pues proporcionan la asistencia necesaria para crecer. Conoce cómo funcionan y aprovéchalas para emprender.

SESSION 2 (11:30 am to 12:30 pm)

  1. Raising Capital for Startups: The tough road to success 

Of the more than $40 billion of funds raised by venture capital firms, less than 3% is allocated to minority-owned startups. However, if the startup has a “double-minority” owner –for instance, woman and Latina– that figure drastically drops to just 0.2%. Interact with angel investors and alternative sources of income to learn how you can present your business to obtain funding.

  1. Strategies to Expanding and Securing your Business Future 

Do you want to expand your business but don’t know how? Are you stagnant and need to create new strategies to secure the financial growth of your business? You may be wondering how to take the next step and grow your business securely beyond its current status. Hear from women entrepreneurs who successfully strategized their businesses’ growth and from experts who can help you achieve a new level of success.

  1. Branding in the Era of Social Media 

Your brand is your company’s identity. It is the link that connects your company to your customers and vice versa. A strong brand provides your business value. It is reflected in everything from “look and. feel” to your mission and vision. A strong brand provide value to your organization well beyond your physical assets. Join our Branding Experts and Social Media Influencers to discuss how you can also create a strong brand for your company and for you!

  1. Empieza tu negocio en belleza, salud y finanzas ya! 

Tienes una idea y no sabes por dónde empezar? Quieres desarrollar o establecer tu negocio con servicios y programas que te ayuden a capacitarte y ampliar las oportunidades económicas como dueño/a de negocio? Ven a presenter tu caso a estas organizaciones que tienen oportunidades y recursos para que comiences o expandas tu propio negocio.

Choose one workshop from each session at registration. Maximum capacity for each workshop is 35-40 participants on a first come, first serve basis. We reserve the right to move participants to other workshops on the same session if workshop is at full capacity so register soon!

pneumonia children with asthma

Latina entrepreneur combats infants’ pneumonia deaths with biotech

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and is the number one infectious cause of death among children under five years of age. Through Nopneu, Temiloluwa Adeniyi is developing a revolutionary tool that works like a pregnancy test to diagnose pneumonia in a simple and quick way. 

pneumonia children with asthma

One million kids die each year from pneumonia according to UNICEF

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs and is the number one infectious cause of death among children under five years of age. More children die from pneumonia each year than measles, malaria, and AIDs combined. That’s close to 1 million children annually.

According to UNICEF, death caused by childhood pneumonia is usually linked to poverty-related factors such as: “undernutrition, lack of safe water and sanitation, indoor air pollution and inadequate access to health care.” The American Thoracic Society says, “Pneumonia does not have effective advocacy…. It does not get the attention it needs from biomedical scientists or from research funders. More effort is needed now.”

Attempting to tackle this issue is biomedical engineer, Temiloluwa Adeniyi, with her biotech startup, Nopneu. Through Nopneu, Adeniyi is developing a revolutionary tool that works like a pregnancy test to diagnose pneumonia in a simple and quick way using color coded results obtained from saliva swabs.

This process cuts back on the time lost through the current standard diagnosis method which is a chest x-ray– time which is often critical in whether a child lives or dies. In many countries and communities where childhood pneumonia deaths are so prevalent, access to equipment such as chest x-rays and specialized staff members who can operate these machines are often scarce.

A passion to help since childhood


Nopneu LLC founder Temiloluwa Adeniyi (courtesy Nopneu)

This Dominican/Nigerian engineering scholar formally began her startup in 2016, but she’s had a passion for science and humanitarian causes since childhood. She reflects on the formative experiences that helped her developed these passions.

She remembers watching shows such as The Magic School Bus and Bill Nye the Science Guy, which nurtured her interest in science. Commercials for organizations such as Save the Children and The Red Cross also impacted her as a child. “I would watch the commercials time after time and wonder how I could help the people those organizations served,” Adeniyi explains.

You might be interested: Access Latina announces business accelerator for Latina entrepreneurs in STEAM

Her mother was also a crucial influence, always volunteering and helping out within her community. She also encouraged Temiloluwa’s passion for S.T.E.M. by enrolling her in science enrichment programs and driving her to science museums for weekend excursions.

“All these childhood experiences have made me really passionate about driving social change with engineering.”

When pneumonia became a real challenge


Nopneu LLC founder Temiloluwa Adeniyi recently received a (courtesy Nopneu)

Temiloluwa took these passions and went on to study Biomedical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati where she began working on what would eventually become Nopneu.  

Her early project was an algorithm for a class that could determine when an infant was susceptible to pneumonia and the onset of the disease. After the project was completed Temiloluwa could not forget the 1 million children who continued to die yearly from the disease. “This fact was unacceptable to me,” she said.    

She cites her spirituality as an important factor in starting her business. “I felt God urge me to keep working on this project, and finally I accepted the challenge.” She formally began Nopneu in October of 2016. From there she began her journey as an entrepreneur, navigating the various challenges of entrepreneurship.  

The challenges of entrepreneurship and pneumonia

“One of the biggest challenges for me has been doing things for which there are no models….There aren’t many people of color in S.T.E.M and there are even fewer who are leading change in biotech…especially Afro-Latinas.”

You might be interested: Mafe Jackson, a Colombian Afro-Latina working tirelessly for DC Ward 7

Finding supportive groups such as the National Society of Black Engineers and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Student Entrepreneurship Program have helped her access great opportunities and meet other like-minded individuals.

Another challenge has been raising money for her startup. “Many entrepreneurial resources…suggest first raising money from friends and family.” This may be an easy strategy for upper class entrepreneurs, but for those who come from working-class backgrounds like Temiloluwa, it is not so feasible. Instead, she has applied for grants and pitch competitions along with also setting up a GoFundMe page.



Her Latina background has been her strength in navigating these challenges. “When you come from a working-class background, like me, you learn how to make amazing things from a small amount of money.” She has implemented innovative strategies to work with her limited funds and make big changes. “It’s no different than what I …and what so many other Latinas see their Moms do. With a few simple ingredients and a small budget you could have a fabulous meal. I’m doing the same now, only with biotech.” Without her Latinas background, Temiloluwa believes she wouldn’t have the same strengths and approaches to problem solving and innovation.

Because of this, she urges other Latinas to utilize their strengths in their own endeavours.

“What the world perceives as our disadvantages can be our superpowers if we decide to see them that way, and leverage them to our full ability.”


Please help this Latina entrepreneur fulfill her dream visiting her GoFundMe page.