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Latina in VC says experience is 'lonely, inspiring, and empowering'

Ines Ferré
·Markets Reporter
·3-min read

As a Latina in the venture capitalist world, Noramay Cadena says the experience can be "lonely, inspiring, and empowering all at once."

"When I started in venture in 2015 there were less than 10 Latinas at the partner level in the country," Cadena tells Yahoo Finance. "There's now twice as many."

The daughter of Mexican immigrants had been in the aerospace industry for more than a decade before entering the VC world. Today's she's co-founder & managing Partner at Supply Change Capital, which focuses on food and food systems, "because consumer power has the potential to shift whole economies, and it starts with food as the base of our economies."

"My partner and I are really committed to investing in the diverse entrepreneurs who are going to create that next generation of iconic brands we'll find at the supermarket." Cadena told Yahoo Finance, "So that's exciting."

But running a VC firm as a Latina can be isolating at times, she added. "It's also a lonely place because Latinos as a whole manage only about 1% of assets under management and venture capital, it's a tiny number," says Cadena.

Noramay Cadena, Latina venture capitalist
Noramay Cadena, Latina venture capitalist

When asked about the challenges of brining more Latinas into venture capital she says, "It's incredibly hard to start a venture firm, you have to cross that that Grand Canyon of first-time funding, and while you do so you're operating on a no income basis."

"Latinos as a whole, we're climbing this generational wealth ladder. And it's going to take some time for us to be in a position to take a timeout, if you will, and build out a firm while maintaining this long-term outlook," she says.

Adela Cepeda, Founder and Chair of Ángeles Investors says the challenge in attracting more Latinas in VC is raising capital aimed at the types of investments that lift up minority communities.

"Latinas in VC want to make an impact AND make money," says Cepeda, whose angel investment firm funds LatinX startups.

An "intentional component of our strategy is expanding the network of support, for investors and for startups, so that we can help facilitate capital raises and pool resources," said Cepeda.

'Challenge of bias'

"I would say that there's a challenge of bias," said Cadena, "There's a challenge of the fear of the unknown. Right? And so, I think that is is that is one bias that has plagued the venture capital industry and in the LP side for a really long time."

However the more people of color and more women succeed at raising large funds, the more they will "normalize fund management by people like me," says Cadena, "That is the biggest indicator of our potential."

Noramay Cadena at Techcrunch Battle 2017
Noramay Cadena at Techcrunch Battle 2017

'Tide is turning'

The venture capitalist emphasizes the "tide is turning."

"There are more and more Latinas, either breaking out of other industries and other funds, or simply finding an opportunity that is interesting, that is overlooked, that creates this opportunity for returns," says Cadena.

"There's truly a revolution happening on both ends of the table in terms of who gets funded, and who is allocating the capital and venture. So it's an exciting time for Latinos in VC," she added.

Ines covers the U.S. stock market. Follow her on Twitter at @ines_ferre

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