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 third year, the club has grown to 146 members and current club Co-Presidents, Aka Akapelwa (MBA 2023), Kendall Ernst (MBA 2023), and Alexis Coates (MBA 2023), 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
Akapelwa, Ernst, and Coates were all drawn to serve as leaders of the Black Investment Club to advocate for equitable access to investing career opportunities.
They shared, “We understand the implications of being excluded from the alternative investment industries. These barriers create challenges to raising capital, being empowered to make investment decisions, and accessing the mentorship and resources to promote our talent.”
Each of the Co-Presidents brings unique experiences to the leadership team, serving to further strengthen their ability to achieve the strategic goals of the Black Investment Club.
Aka Akapelwa (MBA 2023)
Aka Akapelwa came to HBS after six years in financial services, first in investment banking at Jeffries and later in Private Equity at ICV Partners where he invested across Healthcare, Business Services, Food, and Consumer sectors. In 2017, he also co-founded a Southern-Africa focused VC firm, Zenga Ventures.
At HBS, Akapelwa is able to share his experience both as an entrepreneur and as an investor. Over the course of his career to date, Akapelwa has participated in closed leveraged buyout transactions, add-on acquisitions for portfolio companies, a sale of a health care portfolio company, and several debt refinancings to facilitate portfolio company growth. This summer, Akapelwa expanded on his financial services experience at Kohlberg & Company serving as a Private Equity Group Intern.
Kendall Ernst (MBA 2023)
Kendall Ernst started his career in renewable energy and came to HBS with seven years of experience in early-stage project development and due diligence for U.S. government energy resilience projects. His work history includes research, finance, and leadership roles at Rocky Mountain Institute, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, BlocPower, and the Department of Energy.
After graduation, Ernst will be joining Activision Blizzard, where he also served as an MBA Intern, and will contribute his leadership experience as a Rotational Manager.
Alexis Coates (MBA 2023)
Alexis Coates launched her career in the aerospace industry where she led highly technical teams at The Boeing Company developing disruptive technologies to usher in the future of mobility and responsible innovation. The major focus of her work was on space exploration, product development, applied R&D, and strategy.
Pivoting into early-stage venture capital while at HBS, Coates is an active member of the Boston innovation ecosystem from the investor side as a Venture Fellow, now Managing Partner, at Rough Draft Ventures (student fund backed by General Catalyst) and MBA Associate at Founder Collective.
BLACK INVESTMENT CLUBS GOALS FOR 2022-2023
The Black Investment Club leadership is maintaining the priorities set by the original co-founders and continues to seek opportunities to build on the excellent work they started. Key strategic objectives and priorities for the year include:
Building a stronger pipeline to opportunities in venture capital, private equity, public markets, and alternate investments through corporate partnerships.
The team is thrilled to be partnering with many corporate sponsors this year including American Securities, Warburg Pincus, The Baupost Group, Integrum Holdings, Partners Group, Apollo, 26North, L Catterton, and Providence Equity Partners. These partnerships allow the Black Investment Club to showcase their members and connect accomplished Black professionals with opportunities in the investment sector.
The club also plays an active role in creating opportunities for people who don’t have traditional investing or finance backgrounds. Pre-MBA internships and winter internships with corporate partners can provide those opportunities for talented professionals who bring transferable skills from operating roles.
Providing educational opportunities to members through industry engagement and exposure.
Through their 2022-2023 speaker series and trainings, the Black Investment Club is providing HBS students with more exposure to the world of investing through insights from professors and investment professionals.
In addition to education on career paths, the Black Investment Club has also focused on financial wellness and personal investing in their programming to offer members of the HBS community further insight into investing strategy and building wealth.
Community and network expansion.
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.
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.