Expanding Diversity at SXSW

If you have been to SXSW Interactive, you know it is a rush of people, new products and start-ups. You also notice that there isn't a lot of diversity among the participants. However, I am now seeing a slow but positive trend in the diversity of start-up founders, and I credit a growing number of efforts targeting underserved and underrepresented populations for playing a part in that.

SxSW attendees
Source: SxSW | Facebook
SxSW attendees

At the Kauffman Foundation, for instance, we have encouraged the inclusion of women-founded start-ups; supported Code 2040, which is working to increase the numbers of underrepresented minorities participating in Silicon Valley's innovation economy; and embraced the work of Mitch Kapor and Freada Kapor Klein at Level Playing Field Institute, which provides STEM-related educational programs to students of color.

At SXSW this year, the Kauffman Foundation will co-host the Startup Village with our friends at Startup America Partnership March 8-12. We are pleased about the amazing entrepreneurs who will be on our panels who represent diversity. All our collaborators will help us ensure that every panel discussion is representative of our successful entrepreneur friends from across the country. On Friday, we hope you join us, along with Chris Bennett and Nnena Ukuku from Black Founders, who are hosting the Ideas Are Worthless Conference at the Hilton Garden Hotel. Black Founders runs hackathons at historical black colleges and sponsor and mentor early-stage black entrepreneurs.

For more entrepreneurship program activities addressing the underrepresented, check out this Women2.0 rundown of women entrepreneurs and venture partners speaking during SXSW Interactive.

See you in Texas.

Lesa Mitchell is vice president of innovation and networks at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.