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News and updates from around the Ujima Ecosystem.

Ujima Fund Investor Report Interview: Shironda White

June 29th, 2021 -- Black. Women. Entrepreneurs. Investors. This quarter for our Summer 2021 Investor Update, we sat down with a group of Black women entrepreneurs invested in the Ujima Fund, spotlighting how they connect to Ujima’s work. Investment for these women is not just material, but about broader support for small businesses and entrepreneurs of color in their communities.

Shironda White is Founder & CEO of CauseEDU, a platform working to democratize the college financial planning process. White has worked on philanthropic initiatives for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the HBCU National Resource Center, and has worked as a fundraiser for both nonprofits and individuals. She is also one half of Cupcake Therapy, a premium nut-free, allergy-friendly cupcakery based in Boston that ships nationwide.

Tell us who you are and share more about your business.

Shironda: I am a Boston-based entrepreneur, the Founder of CauseEDU and Cupcake Therapy, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at The Quin, and an investor. CauseEDU is a platform working to democratize the college financial planning process. The platform brings together financial planners, college financial aid counselors, tax advisors, and college admissions counselors to provide students and their families with comprehensive strategies to fund their college education. We charge one low annual fee for a suite of services, and we save families on average $10,000 on the cost of a college degree. With a 20-year career spanning philanthropy, financial services, and higher education management, I launched CauseEDU to teach families the best strategies to fund their post-secondary education.

Cupcake Therapy is a nut-free, allergy-friendly cupcakery with more than 100 flavors of signature, vegan, gluten-free, and sugar-free cupcakes. We were recently listed under “Best Cupcakes in Boston” by Boston Magazine.

Why did you invest in the Ujima Fund?

Our businesses don’t receive enough in investments, even when our prospects for success are strong. We should definitely push for equity in the angel investing/VC space, but we should also create our own funding sources. The Boston Ujima Project has done that, and I believe that it has the potential to have a significant impact and serve as a model for other funds around the country.

Why was it important for you to invest as a business owner?

As a business owner, I understand (and have seen firsthand) a lot of the challenges we face in securing investments. I want to be part of the solution.

How has interacting with or investing in Ujima helped shape your practices as a business owner?

Learning more about Ujima and becoming an investor was the first step in developing our overall investment strategies for both Cupcake Therapy and CauseEDU. Most small businesses and startups don’t think about or prioritize investing outside of their business, but larger companies look at it as just another part of doing business. We believe small business owners and startups should make this a practice early, and we are trying to model that (and encourage others to do the same) through our investment in Ujima.

What’s the story you want to tell about being a Black woman investor?

My three-year goal is to become an angel investor and to write much larger checks, but I found that through the Boston Ujima Fund Project I can start now. I don’t have to wait until I reach the 5-figure or 6-figure range to invest in other promising companies. I don’t have to wait to have an impact.

Also, I don’t think we talk enough in our communities about investing in each other’s businesses. We talk about the stock market, savings, and other financial opportunities that can enhance our portfolios, but not the financial return and social impact we can have when investing in each other. The Ujima Fund provides this opportunity and I wanted to make sure that as a Black woman investor I took part in it. ■

Shironda has many exciting projects in the works. Cupcake Therapy is currently in the planning phase of opening their first brick & mortar.

CauseEDU is continuing to work on partnerships with schools and educational organizations for the upcoming academic year. CauseEDU is open to connecting with schools or organizations needing a comprehensive program that helps students and their families better plan for funding their college experience.


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