Blacks and immigrants form 55% of Philadelphia’s population (1,584,138 people)
Philadelphia is among the major American cities with the most sophisticated and well endowed entrepreneurial ecosystems.
The city has the best venture returns outranking New York, Boston, and Austin, 100+ universities and colleges, 30+ coworking spaces, 10+ tech incubators, social entrepreneurship and health acceleration programs, 51,000 tech businesses, 36 academic research programs with over $10.5 billion R&D budgets, and 198 hospitals.
In addition, Philadelphia receives about 43 million visitors a year bringing in revenue in excess of $7 billion. Philadelphia’s city government has put in place many neighborhood economic and business development grants and incentives.
Even though blacks and immigrants make up 55% of city’s population, they own less than 3% of the tech businesses, have only 2.5 % employed in tech businesses and experience the highest levels of poverty and unemployment. Philadelphia is among the major American cities with the most sophisticated, but least diverse, least inclusive and least equitable tech and innovation entrepreneurial ecosystem.
However, despite all these rich resources, neighborhood businesses and entrepreneurs still face a host of challenges including inadequate entrepreneurial training, technical assistance, networking, coaching/mentoring, access to finance, use of technology, market access, language, and cultural barriers.
In fact, a survey of neighborhood entrepreneurs and businesses reveal the glaring disparity in awareness. Out of 400 neighborhood businesses and entrepreneurs surveyed, almost 85% are not aware of available programs and services they can utilize to help them plan, launch and grow their businesses.
For Philadelphia to reach its full potential, it must create more high-quality jobs, build an inclusive economy with opportunity for all, and reinvigorate neighborhood commercial districts in all corners of the city.
For Philadelphia to reach its full potential, create more high-quality jobs, build an inclusive economy with opportunity for all, and reinvigorate neighborhood commercial districts in all corners of the city, it must create an equitable, inclusive and diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem. This is indispensable for minority and immigrant business development, and plays an influential role in improving people’s standard of living, accelerating community revitalization, and creating new jobs in disadvantaged neighborhoods.
Highlighting a path through this ecosystem and the necessary resources to travel it is key to a more equitable way forward. Our idea will develop and implement strategies to create a more inclusive, diverse, and accessible entrepreneurial ecosystem so that every business and entrepreneur is connected to resources and networks needed to plan, launch, and grow their businesses. The strategies will include mapping the city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, producing a digital roadmap, training community ecosystem builders to act as resource links and key ecosystem actors to remove barriers in the ecosystem, and launching a citywide builders alliance to sustain the efforts. This idea fits well with the theme of the AlumniTies seminar, “Stronger American Cities: Closing the Skills Gap and Building Entrepreneurial Ecosystems”.
This project is innovative because we take an approach from an unconventional and empathetic point of view, acknowledging the gap in accessing resources and addressing holistic solutions with scalable results. Our plan is to leverage other existing efforts and create a more equitable, inclusive and diverse ecosystem to grant entrepreneurs more access to resources. Our activities differ from the other efforts because we focus on access to resources and networks needed to build the capacity of minority and immigrant businesses to scale up and become sustainable. We are interested in leveling the playing field and making the ecosystem more equitable, diverse and inclusive.
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