Because Of Them We Can
By BOTWC Staff
Dr. Shanté Williams
A Black woman-owned contact lens manufacturer is the first of its kind in the world, POCIT reports.
Black Pearl Global Investments is an asset management firm that was started in 2019 by CEO Dr. Shanté Williams, a former Therapeutics Scientist who found her passion in investments. Since the launch, Williams and her team have been able to grow the firm’s assets exponentially, focusing primarily on health innovation technology in North America, Africa, and the Caribbean. The firm’s team of innovative leaders includes Chief Investment Officer and Founding Partner, Dr. Carl Smart, Head of Technology & Operations and Founding Partner, Marlon Joris, Director of Caribbean Deployment Strategy, Daniel Smart, and Head of Africa Development & Strategy, Amartey Nuno-Amarteifio.
Currently, the firm focuses on distributing a wide array of funding, including “venture capital, private equity, and private lending” across the globe. Not only does Black Pearl focus on providing the capital for those innovating in the health sector, but they also have a strategic mission of making sure they accelerate the deployment of funding needed for entrepreneurs to get their companies to the next level.
In 2019, Florida-based contact lens manufacturer, Hydrogel Vision Corp, was acquired by Clerio Vision, now owned by Black Pearl Vision. The company is known for its Extreme H20 contact lenses that provide the ultimate hydration for wearers and its variety of lens options for those with smaller or more narrow eyelids. As investors, the company has now made history as the only Black-owned and woman-owned contact lens manufacturer in the world.
Williams spoke about the investment acquisition, set to be finalized this September, and how the firm feels it will impact customers everywhere. Their goal is to increase the wide distribution of vision products while also focusing on the research and development aspect of the business.
“Globally, we want to help more people see clearly, including providing better diagnoses, accessing providers, and delivering medications. So we will continue to push forward with research and development on the material as well as the manufacturing process,” said Williams.
Black Pearl joins a growing number of Black-owned investment firms looking to help out entrepreneurs innovating at the intersection of health and technology. Earlier this year, Marcus Whitney, co-founder of Jumpstart Health Investors (JHI), helped raise $55 million in seed investment for healthcare companies founded or led by Black entrepreneurs.
“The healthcare venture capital industry has missed out for decades on investing in America’s brilliant Black innovators, and this has been a loss for us all. Jumpstart Nova’s strong start and incredible group of limited partners validate the need to capitalize and support the vital solutions from the untapped talent base,” Whitney told reporters.
JHI was able to garner support from healthcare companies and institutions across the nation, such as HCA Healthcare, Meharry Medical College, Pinnacle Financial Partners, and Vanderbilt University. As of March, they had already invested in four Black-led healthtech companies, selecting 17 healthcare startups for their accelerator program.
Holly Rachel, president of a local chapter of Blacks in Technology, spoke about the importance of what Black investment firms like JHI are doing, saying funding is the number one need for growing startups.
“Capital is a crucial piece of the puzzle when it comes to startup success, especially when we are talking about tech startups. Typically, Black founders only receive about 1 percent of venture capitalist investment each year, and that number just isn’t representative of the potential that exists within the Black startup community. The existence of funds like Jumpstart Nova provide the opportunity for Black founders to grow their startups,” said Rachel.
With the Clerio deal, Black Pearl is focused on expanding operations and acquiring the Food and Drug Administration’s 33.926 square-foot facilities in Sarasota, Florida with hopes of allowing the space for other businesses to use the building to conduct research, manufacture, and develop their products. Once the deal is finalized, Black Pearl will also focus on launching a new line of products catering to Black and brown customers.
“We’re looking forward to helping to deliver more responsive vision products for people of color and bringing more diversity to the optometry space,” Williams explained.
To get your Black Pearl Vision products, click here.
Black woman owned contact lens manufacturer is first of its kind in the world. Photo Courtesy of Black Pearl Global