A Systematic Review of Programs to Increase Equity in Entrepreneurship

March 10, 2021 | By

Stacey Williams

Increasing access to entrepreneurship for underserved populations is the primary goal of our work at Forward Cities. Most often, we focus on decreasing barriers to business ownership for underserved populations though interventions identified by the local community. To support our work, we wanted to review the existing literature supporting the effectiveness of various programs.        

As part of an internship program last summer and fall, I led a team conducting a systematic review of the peer reviewed literature. Through the internship, students learned about systemic inequities in the rates of entrepreneurship, the underlying root causes of these inequities, and programs being used to increase access to entrepreneurship in the United States. The team collaborated on all stages of the systematic review design including establishing clear research objectives, a literature search strategy, abstract and full text review tracking, and the production of a research paper suitable for a peer review publication. 

We are excited to share our working paper and welcome your feedback and comments on this manuscript. 

Programs to improve equitable access to entrepreneurship in the United States, a systematic review


With more attention to the effects of social determinants on life opportunities and health outcomes for minority populations, increasing access to entrepreneurship is often cited as a solution to improve economic mobility. We conducted a systematic review of the literature on the effectiveness of programs with the goal of increasing entrepreneurship among racial and ethnic minority populations. We summarize the evidence for community and school-based efforts as well as preferential procurement and affirmative action programs at various levels of implementation. Preferential procurement programs were the most commonly assessed and had the largest body of evidence for effectiveness; however, variation in effectiveness of associated programming provides guidance for increasing the impact of future iterations. In addition to an evidence summary for the full range of programs identified, we provide guidance for increasing validity of program evaluation through improved research methods and reporting.

About the Interns
A photo of Moller


JR is currently a doctoral student at UNC Greensboro where she studies Evaluation. Prior to beginning her doctoral work, JR completed her MA in Psychology at New York University and MA in Forensic Mental Health Counseling at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. She has experience working with large datasets and on complex evaluation in multiple settings including community-based organizations and university-based curriculums/projects with an eye towards social service and social justice. JR is passionate about leveraging her skills to serve those in her community and beyond. When she is not hard at work, she enjoys working with animals and volunteering for community organizations.

A photo of Jasmine Moore

Jasmine Moore

Jasmine Moore is a recent graduate of Xavier University with a Master of Business Administration, and a third-year student in the Master of Health Service Administration program. As an intern most recently with Mercer Health, a consulting firm, Jasmine worked on client projects to build on-site clinics and develop mental health stigma campaigns. She has a strong desire to help communities most in need and pursues roles that will allow her to improve health outcomes for vulnerable and underserved populations.