Our nation needs to crack the code of how to foster a culture and economy that produces shared prosperity for all. Communities are the laboratories where pathways to inclusive economic development can be pioneered.



In the absence of support structures, underestimated entrepreneurs have been forging their own paths relying on the unique assets and social networks of their local neighborhoods and communities of belonging. 

Lack of inclusive support structures is one of many barriers facing entrepreneurs of color. Our work is grounded in the awareness that historic and present-day, systemic racial inequities are what create and uphold barriers to entrepreneurship.  These inequities result in underrepresented, under-connected, under-resourced, and undervalued entrepreneurs and small business owners who spend precious time surviving in spite of systems that should help them to thrive. 

And, while many entrepreneurs and small business owners successfully navigate the barriers to success on their own, far too many prospective entrepreneurs are left on the sidelines, further exacerbating existing inequities. The consequences for community and economy are immense -  ranging from widening income and wealth gaps to further cementing of racial and community divides.

The Solution

We believe that creating stronger communities and closing the opportunity gap requires us to level the playing field for all entrepreneurs across all geographies through intentional planning and sustained investment of time, energy, and resources. “ABIDE” is a capacity-building engagement uniquely centered at the cross-section of economic development, business development, and community development. 


Business Mentor

Program Overview

ABIDE embodies Forward Cities’ organizational commitment to cultivating a culture of access, belonging, inclusion, diversity, and equity (ABIDE) and through our proprietary training we equip entrepreneurial support organizations and cross-sector entrepreneurial ecosystem stakeholders within 

Women working at table

communities with foundational knowledge and skills to better understand and address systemic issues that lead to inequity.

Each ABIDE session offers racial equity and cultural competence education and resources to help organizational staff and leaders render more equitable, and inclusive service, support, and programming for under-connected entrepreneurs.  

And, as each session concludes, participants will have increased:

  • Understanding and empathy for the entrepreneurial journey for under-connected, under-valued, under-resourced, and under-invested entrepreneurs and small business owners
  • Ability to apply equitable strategies for mitigating unconscious bias in recruitment, staffing, and outreach
  • Readiness to engage in more inclusive programming and collaboration
  • A repertoire of inclusive language and practices for engaging currently disenfranchised entrepreneurs, small business owners, and underconnected ESOs
  • Ability to create spaces of belonging and opportunities for equitable access
The Four-Part Series includes:
  • An Introduction to ABIDE 
  • Bias, Bureaucracy, and Barriers to ABIDE
  • Building Blocks to ABIDE
  • The Elements of a Thriving Equitable Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

For more information about bringing ABIDE to your community, please contact us.


“The ABIDE training was a beneficial experience for my colleagues and me to participate in together: it helped give us a common language to continue the conversation post-training with our broader team on a vital topic. Given the focus on the entrepreneurial ecosystem, the breakouts and topics focused on areas that impact our everyday work, helping us connect the dots on how we can continue to strive to be an even more inclusive service provider.”

Bethany George, Rev1 Ventures, Franklin County/Columbus, Ohio

Fay Horwitt Headshot

Fay Horwitt


As President of Forward Cities, Fay Horwitt partners in mission and strategy for the organization, leads in program design and manages the Forward Cities’ community innovation team. As an accomplished ecosystem builder and inclusive entrepreneurship expert, she uses asset-based and creative approaches to help emerging innovation communities build inclusive strategies into their DNA as they grow.

Nonprofit organizations, foundations, and communities across the country look to Fay Horwitt to provide creative solutions to grow inclusive and impact for local entrepreneurial ecosystems. As a sought after presenter and trainer, Fay designs and delivers in-person and virtual events, education and interactive experiences to help organizations, companies, and individuals grow more effective and equitable human ecosystems. Fay now turns her attention to ecosystem healing, helping pivot ecosystems and institutions in the time of COVID-19, racial tensions and beyond - all from a multicultural lens.


Shayla Herndon-Edmunds


Shayla is an intuitive leader and diversity professional with decades of progressive administrative and managerial experience, including more than 14 years in higher education. She is widely respected for her work helping corporations, institutions of higher education, and non-profit organizations through executive coaching, strategic planning, and training and development related to diversity & inclusion, unconscious bias, emotional intelligence, intercultural development, and team effectiveness.