"Efforts to organize and support entrepreneurs of color are most effective when they are rooted in communities of color and led by well-respected leaders from those communities."
Looking back on 2022, we are encouraged and inspired by the growing awareness of racial and economic injustice in our society. For the past six years, Forward Cities has been on the front lines of putting systems in place to expand entrepreneurship in underserved communities to address that deep-seated problem.
We are now seeing efforts along those lines emerge organically in communities across the country. And we are seeing an increasing number of national organizations and funders entering this space. So, we think we must be on the right track.
However, we are finding that traditional approaches to supporting entrepreneurs, as well as many of the inclusive entrepreneurship strategies currently in vogue, are coming up short. Tweaking traditional approaches, or simply putting an “inclusive” twist or spin on them, makes little lasting difference.
Instead, we are finding that efforts to organize and support entrepreneurs of color are most effective when they are rooted in communities of color and led by well-respected leaders from those communities. In other words, when communities take an inside-out, rather than an outside-in, approach.
Looking ahead to 2023, we will be looking for opportunities to continue refining our inside-out approach in communities across the country, to partnering and sharing lessons learned with other organizations working in this space, and to equipping the individuals leading this work on the ground with the tools and skills they need to be successful.