Nathalie Molina Niño is happy to invest in a man who plans to “create wealth among thousands and thousands of women, especially women of color”
This story is part of “Ceiling Smashers,” a series in which successful women across industries tell Moneyish how they broke down professional barriers.
Nathalie Molina Niño is done being a model minority.
The BRAVA Investments CEO, daughter to an Ecuadorian father and Colombian mother, blazed frontiers in the ’90s as the rare Latina in the predominantly white boys’ club of tech — teaching herself to code and launching her first startup, Web Meridians, at age 20. Getting mistaken for a receptionist or waitstaff was “not an uncommon thing,” Molina Niño said — and tech’s cultural problem, she ventures, has only worsened over the past two decades.
Now, she’s pushing through a new ceiling. “We have a problem of having imposed on ourselves this mentality of not wanting to rock the boat, not wanting to complain; you’ve got to be grateful that you’re here,” Molina Niño, a 42-year-old Harlem resident, told Moneyish. “We should be coming from a place of power, even entitlement. There are enough of us that we should be making demands of the country that we help keep alive.”
These days, she added, she’s far more interested in encouraging women — particularly women of color — “to quit being polite, to quit worrying about having people like you.”
Molina Niño founded BRAVA, which invests in scalable companies creating measurable economic benefit for women, in 2016. Citing an alarming stat that women of color receive just 0.2% of venture capital, she also seeks to bring more of them into the entrepreneurial fold: Rather than investing exclusively in female entrepreneurs, Molina Niño explained, she’s happy to invest in a man who plans to “create wealth among thousands and thousands of women, especially women of color,” who don’t tend to have the same networks, nest eggs or deep-pocketed friends as some of their white counterparts. Among BRAVA’s investments are a stealth-mode women’s fertility project and Glassbreakers, a diversity and inclusion software company.
While BRAVA may not be “making them all millionaires,” she said, it can aid in “taking them out of survival mode and just making sure that they start to have a little bit of disposable income, and a little bit of free time, and a little bit of savings, to invest in themselves and each other.” “That’s when I think we’ll start to see these legions of incredibly entrepreneurial women start to become really viable, venture-backed entrepreneurs,” she said.
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