Entrepreneurship can be a pathway to wealth and social change for communities and families. But racial economic disparities, institutionalized discrimination and lack of resources make entrepreneurship more challenging for Black and Latinx founders than others. Recent resident data shows that Black residents in New Haven are 19 times less likely to own a small business than their white peers. Further, only one in every 3,000 Black residents and one in every 1,000 Latinx residents in Connecticut start a small business, compared to one in every 500 white residents. In response, the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven (CFGNH) and the New Haven Innovation Collaborative have commissioned and partnered with Forward Cities to foster a more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem. This effort is part of CFGNH's strategic plan to build a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in Greater New Haven.
The two-year engagement is a collaborative effort between nonprofit organizations and local community members to co-create an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is accessible for all New Haven entrepreneurs. Over the next 18 months, a council of residents, named the New Haven Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem (NHE3) Council, will outline an action plan to define the needed frameworks, programs, and initiatives to build equity for every entrepreneur in New Haven for years to come.
In addition to the NHE3 Council, this engagement will be led by a local implementation team, consisting of Arthur Thomas (Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives and Inclusive Economic Opportunity at CFGNH) alongside Caroline Smith and Margaret Lee (Co-Directors of Collab, an accelerator for Connecticut entrepreneurs that supports people of color, women, and immigrant entrepreneurs).
“NHE3 is a structural innovation that penetrates through and into the root causes of Black and Brown devaluation, dislocation, dispossession, and denigration,” says Arthur Thomas.
“Every year, Collab works with hundreds of hardworking entrepreneurs across Connecticut. We are excited to partner and lead NHE3 to ensure our entrepreneurs get the resources they need. We do this work for them,” says Caroline Smith.
“This work is important because our youth need to see Black and brown entrepreneurs leading in the city,” says Ashleigh Huckabey of Black Lives Matter New Haven and the NHE3 Council
Members of the NHE3 Council include:
- Mark Abraham — Executive Director, DataHaven
- Devin Avshalom-Smith — Founder, Newhallville Community Action Network
- Paul Bryant-Hudson — Founder, The Kitchen
- Gerry Garcia — Small Business Counselor, City of New Haven Economic Development
- Carolyn Gonzalez — Community Development Officer, Capital for Change
- Ashleigh Huckabey — Co-Founder, Black Lives Matter New Haven
- Donna Lecky — Founder, Health Haven Hub
- Luis Luna — Co-Founder, Semilla Collective
- Miguel Pittman — Co-Owner, Sandra's Next Generation
- Jewu Richardson — Co-Director, CT Bail Fund
- Marina Rodriguez — New Haven Director, All Our Kin
- Genevieve Walker — COO, ConnCAT
Facilitating this engagement is Forward Cities, a national nonprofit equipping communities and regions to grow and sustain more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystems. They partner with communities to better understand their current entrepreneurial landscape through the lens of equity and inclusion and help them develop and ultimately implement strategies to strengthen systems of support for under-connected, under-invested entrepreneurs and small business owners.
With Forward Cities’ input, cross-sector stakeholders hope to better connect entrepreneurs to trusted, culturally competent resources that help stabilize local small business economies and lead to an increase in entrepreneurial starts and small business growth more reflective of New Haven’s demographic. All in an effort to strengthen equity and inclusion in New Haven’s entrepreneurial ecosystem; creating a future where all entrepreneurs are welcome and, in response to this pandemic, more resilient to economic and social turbulence.
If you’re an entrepreneur looking to highlight your experience in New Haven, please register to take the Entrepreneur Survey; your input will help guide the NHE3 Council and eligible participants will receive a $20 gift card.
For more information on the engagement, visit New Haven's CEA page or contact Community Foundation for Greater New Haven’s Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives and Inclusive Economic Opportunity, Arthur Thomas email@example.com.