In 2017, Trident, a private equity firm that utilizes proprietary technology when investing in small businesses, was founded by Eric Taylor, a former portfolio manager. Taylor saw that other institutional capital markets generally left small businesses in underserved areas, particularly in Black and Brown communities, overlooked. Seeing these small businesses as opportunities rather than as obstacles, Taylor set out to fill the void with Trident, serving these small businesses through a lens of social equity. His strategy not only increases return for investors but also has a positive effect and impact on the communities.
As of 2021, Trident’s proprietary algorithm has helped them return a 23% net profit. However, what is most revolutionary is the diversity they bring to their own company and board room. Trident is a Black-owned business. 60% of all of its employees are people of color, and 40% of its employees are women. Taylor believes that the diversity in their business is an asset and leads to better outcomes for all of their partners.
Trident and its mission caught the attention of Bank of America, an investment bank and financial services holding company, as well as Robert F. Smith, a well-known entrepreneur, philanthropist and Founder, Chairman and CEO of leading global investment firm Vista Equity Partners. In October 2021, both Bank of America and Smith provided seed capital and anchor investments to Trident. Their intent is to help accelerate the private equity firm’s growth and pursue its investment activities. Other investors include Moody’s, Richelieu Dennis, Sengal Selassie, Bob Nelsen, Freada and Mitch Kapor, and Al Dombrowski.
With the new investments, Trident launched the Trident American Dreams Advisory Board, which will provide strategic assistance, advice and connections to resources to assist the Trident team as a whole.
“We are thrilled to have the support of such a strong slate of investors for Trident,” said Taylor. “Trident seeks to generate outsized returns for investors while amplifying the social and economic benefits of everyday small businesses, especially for those in the Black community. Having aligned investors as well as the support of the Trident American Dreams Advisory Board will allow us to fast-track achieving our goal of doing well while doing good.”
Helping Underserved Communities in More Ways Than One
Both Bank of America and Robert F. Smith are no strangers to promoting racial equity and advancement. In fact, both have provided support to other like-minded causes over the years. For example, in June 2020, Bank of America committed $1 billion over four years to advance racial equality and economic opportunity. In January 2021, Bank of America invested approximately $150 million in 40 funds, with the investments helping to address the ongoing efforts to close the persistent gap in access to growth capital for minority-led businesses.
In March 2021, Bank of America announced that it had increased its $1 billion, four-year commitment to $1.25 billion over five years. To date, the investment bank has made over $350 million in various investments from its initial $1 billion, four-year commitment, focusing on health, job training, affordable housing and small business.
Robert F. Smith is also doing his part to uplift businesses and members of underrepresented communities. He is a proponent of The 2% Solution, which encourages companies to invest 2% of their profits over the course of 10 years into communities that have been systematically held back by the racial wealth gap. He is also Chairman of and the visionary behind Student Freedom Initiative, a single-purpose nonprofit organization that offers a catalyst for freedom in professional and life choices for students attending Minority Serving Institutions. Smith is also the founding director and President of the Fund II Foundation, an organization dedicated to preserving the historical culture of the African-American experience, safeguarding human dignity and promoting human rights.
In 2019, Smith also made his most famous gift to date. While addressing the Morehouse College graduating class, he committed to paying off the students’ entire student debt, helping establish their freedom in professional and personal choices. This gift totaled approximately $34 million and helped spark the idea behind Student Freedom Initiative.
Learn more about the positive effects of Robert F. Smith’s groundbreaking gift to Morehouse or other programs, such as Student Freedom Initiative, that he supports.