Building a business can be challenging and daunting. For people of color, the challenge could be twice or thrice what Whites go through to establish a business. The challenge could range from racism, venture funding to the question of one’s capabilities.
It is widely known that Black women entrepreneurs receive less than one percent of venture funding. In addition, they have to put up with systematic racism and watch on as their competency is questioned.
Sevetri Wilson is aware of these challenges as an entrepreneur and a Black founder from New Orleans. At the age of 22, Wilson achieved success by building a seven-figure business with zero capital following the death of her mother.
She founded the communications and management firm, Solid Ground Innovations, in 2009. She is also behind New Orleans-based tech startup Resilia, which she founded in 2016.
Wilson is also the first Black woman in New Orleans to raise a seven-figure round of funding. And recently, she raised $11 million in capital for her firm, Resilia.
Resilia makes it easier for nonprofits to file for incorporation and tax exemptions and offers streamlined resources for compliance, training and fundraising.
“Female, African-American, solo founder — everything that does not equate Mark Zuckerberg,” the 33-year-old entrepreneur told The Story Exchange. “I feel that the future of tech founders looks more and more like me.”
Wilson attributes her success to her “resilience” which she talks about in her book titled: “Solid Ground: How I Built a 7-Figure Company at 22 with Zero Capital.” The book chronicles her journey and lessons learned.
“I remember one day I just googled the word resilience and one definition that returned was, ‘capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture’,” she said. “That definition literally described my entrepreneurial and founder journey.”
“As an entrepreneur, I look back on my journey and I’m so glad I didn’t let the process jade or change me. Building a business can be volatile. There are so many ups and downs, so many “no’s”, so many “maybe next time” and doors that close on us that it can harden you if you let it. Being able to have the resilience to withstand what’s thrown at you and to still come out of it better and on top is what Resilient means to me,” she added.
Wilson was born and raised in Hammond, Louisiana about 45 minutes outside of New Orleans. She is the youngest of 12 children. She studied mass communications and history and hoped to become a historical filmmaker and make documentaries but life had other plans for her.
Her parents died when she was young and unlike many, she did not inherit anything. According to her, she was left with debt to pay which she has since paid over time. Wilson said she vowed to change her financial status after watching her single mother struggle financially to provide for the family.
“I was able to grow my first business because I was able to clearly define solutions for the problems my clients were having. Because of this, my company grew — along with my network,” she said.
Wilson is a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Public Service, the Jefferson Award and her work was featured in the U.S. Senate report to the White House on Volunteerism in the U.S.