In 2020, Paul Ampofo (MBA 2020) and Brian Sykes (MBA 2020) founded the Black Investment Club at Harvard Business School to address the massive underrepresentation of Black investors in venture capital, private equity, and investment management.

Now in its second year, the club has grown to 70 members and new club Co-Presidents Gwanygha’a Gana (MBA 2022), Dike Nwokike (MBA 2022), and Tracey Thompson (MBA 2022), are ready and eager to lead new and ongoing initiatives that support their Black classmates and contribute to meaningful and sustainable changes in the investing industry.

MEET THE CO-PRESIDENTS

Gana, Nwokike, and Thompson each joined the Black Investment Club in their first year at Harvard Business School with an interest in investing, a focus on equity, and dedication to serve their fellow students.

Gwanygha’a Gana (MBA 2022)

Gwanygha’a Gana began his career in engineering and product management with Boeing. He also has entrepreneurial experience having co-founded two businesses, Lunr, an event recommendation mobile app, and Kebuthreads, an African inspired urban clothing brand. In addition, Gana did a Pre-MBA summer fellowship with Blueprint Investor Track Dorm Room Fund, an organization focused on bringing more minorities into venture capital.

Now at Harvard Business School, he has taken on several part-time roles in venture capital during the semester to gain experience in the industry. “Venture Capital is a hard space for folks to get into, and much harder for people of color,” Gana explained. “So, I’m doing what I can do to help.”

Dike Nwokike (MBA 2022)

Dike Nwokike came to HBS after three years in investment banking at Bank of America and two years at ICV Partners, a Black owned and led private equity firm founded by HBS alum Willie Woods (MBA 1993). “ICV Partners was a unique experience for me, growing up in majority white spaces and working in investment banking in a predominantly white group,” Nwokike shared. “It was compelling to see people who looked like me and who had similar backgrounds and life experience navigating the space and doing work I was passionate about.”

Nwokike had learned about the Black Investment Club from current students before matriculating at HBS and immediately knew it was something he wanted to be a part of to increase access and opportunities for his peers.

Tracey Thompson (MBA 2022)

Tracey Thompson brings a background in finance and entertainment media and has focused her work on the intersection between investing and culture. Prior to HBS, Thompson was a founding team member of Will Packer Media, a high growth production and branded content company producing series for underserved audiences across television and digital platforms. She also most recently served as a Venture Fellow with SoGal Ventures, the world’s first female-led, next generation venture capital firm investing in diverse entrepreneurs.

“A lot of industries that are hot right now in investing like FemTech, FinTech, EdTech, or beauty, they are built on the bodies and cultures of black and BIPOC women,” said Thompson. “Yet Black women are dismissed when it comes to raising capital, so it became very evident to me that if anyone is going to advocate for Black women, it’s going to be Black women and my amazing Co-Presidents.”

BLACK INVESTMENT CLUBS GOALS FOR 2021

The Black Investment Club leadership is maintaining the priorities set by the original co-founders and looking to build on the excellent work they started. Key priorities for the year ahead include:

Building a stronger pipeline to opportunities in venture capital, private equity, and alternate investments through corporate partnerships.

“We have some amazing club sponsors so far including Blackstone, T. Rowe Price, Cisco, Apollo, Bain & Co. and Warburg Pincus,” shared Thompson. “The long-standing argument is that there are not enough Black professionals to choose from, so we are excited to partner with organizations to show them the swath of accomplished Black professionals ready to get into finance.”

“We’re also interested in creating opportunities for people who don’t have traditional investing or finance backgrounds,” said Nwokike. “Half of our members come from backgrounds outside of banking, investing, consulting, or corporate finance, and they can leverage transferable skills from operating roles to succeed in investing. Pre-MBA internships and winter internships with corporate partners can provide those opportunities to build the additional skillsets.”

Providing educational opportunities to members.

The speaker series and trainings the Black Investment Club is planning for 2021-2022 are designed to provide HBS students with more exposure to the world of investing through insights from professors and investment professionals on career paths, investing strategy, and building wealth.

Gana emphasized the point about educating members on allocating assets and building family wealth. “We know a lot of people of color don’t have access to that sort of advice or training early in their professional careers,” he said. “Down the line we want to have folks come back to the club with this skill set in order to help others.”

Creating opportunities for education and growth outside of HBS.

The club is also eager to spread knowledge beyond the HBS campus by building partnerships with Boston-based nonprofit organizations to create mentorships and curriculum programs for younger students.

“Growing up I never really thought of myself as an investor, and I think that limited what I went for in my career. I want to be able to change that perception among Black youth,” said Thompson.

Looking ahead to the spring, the Black Investment Club leaders are also excited to host the first Black Investment Conference at HBS. The conference will bring together students, alumni, sponsors, and industry experts to discuss racial injustice and how to create equity for Black people in finance.

PARTNER WITH THE BLACK INVESTMENT CLUB

Key to accomplishing many of these important goals is building partnerships with organizations who share the Black Investment Club’s commitment to eliminating barriers that prevent Black students from breaking into the world of investing.

To discuss sponsorship opportunities, the Black Investment Conference, and internships, fellowships, and full-time or part-time jobs you would like to share with current students, contact the Black Investment Club Co-Presidents.