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Inclusion Open funds pilots and programs for inclusive entrepreneurship

Shelly Bell
Shelly Bell, founder of Black Girl Ventures and an Inclusion Open grantee, participates at the ESHIP Summit in Kansas City, Missouri. 

2019 Inclusion Open grants seek to test new ideas or scale proven programs centered on inclusion and equity to remove barriers to entrepreneurship.

Launched earlier this year, the 2019 Inclusion Open RFP welcomed more than 750 applications from 42 states and two territories (Puerto Rico and American Samoa) in a search for projects with the ability to test new ideas or scale already-proven programs to remove geographic, socioeconomic, and demographic barriers for underserved entrepreneurs.

“Our American economy will not grow if underserved entrepreneurs don’t build and grow businesses,” said Natalie Self, program officer in Entrepreneurship at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. “We’re leaving economic potential on the table by having additional barriers for people starting businesses.”

The Kauffman Foundation ultimately funded 19 organizations with projects centered on developing replicable methods to promote inclusive and equitable entrepreneur support organizations. Within the portfolio, there is also a purposeful focus on supporting business growth. Self said while there’s a lot of information about how to start a business, growing a business requires unique support, including product development, maintaining perseverance, and accessing capital.

“This community of grantees is building field-wide standards around what quality entrepreneurship support looks like, and how to help everyone get there,” Self said. “The organizations that are working on these equitable programs, policies, and practices today will inform the field of entrepreneurship support for years to come.”

Meet the 19 new organizations whose projects will be funded by the 2019 Inclusion Open:

  • Black Girl Ventures: Creation of a toolkit for its programs and implementation of a chapter-based expansion model in five new cities.
  • Black Tech Mecca: Develop a community of practice to improve the programming of 16 entrepreneur support organizations that serve African American entrepreneurs.
  • Build Institute: Strengthen its core programming for Main Street entrepreneurs and microbusinesses and pilot an expansion beyond the Detroit metropolitan area.
  • Central Avenue Betterment Association: Operational support for a bi-weekly public market featuring local food and craft vendors that lends new and largely Latinx entrepreneurs the opportunity to test their business concepts without the need to invest in a storefront, in addition to coaching and technical assistance for the market vendors.
  • Change Labs, Grand Canyon Trust: Increase the organization’s internal capacity to provide programming for Native American entrepreneurs on the Navajo Nation (which spans northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico).
  • Cincinnati Regional Chamber: Maintain the Minority Business Accelerator and ready the model for the potential to scale beyond of Cincinnati.
  • Determination, Inc.: Pilot entrepreneurship support groups and educational events targeted at formerly incarcerated entrepreneurs.
  • Elemental Excelerator: Continue programming and build an online playbook that startup companies can adopt to create more inclusive internal cultures.
  • EPEC, The Grooming Project (now known as Pawsperity): Pilot a business development program for low-income women who’ve successfully completed the organization’s existing dog-grooming training program.
  • Vibrant Memphis, Inc. dba Epicenter: Expand and enhance the organization’s programming for minority-owned businesses in Memphis.
  • Foundation for Puerto Rico: Create greater coordination among existing programs at five Puerto Rico-based entrepreneurial support organizations.
  • Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (Kansas City): Create and deliver a bilingual entrepreneurship curriculum to support primarily Latinx entrepreneurs.
  • Mujeres Latinas en Acción: Increase marketing and evaluation capacity, as well as continue delivery of current business development program focused on Latinas in Chicago.
  • National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development: Build a national network of community-based organizations and train staff to serve low-income Asian-American and Pacific Islander entrepreneurs.
  • Porter House KC/CHES: Implement a place-based model for providing retail entrepreneur support (event series, retail incubator, and business development curriculum) in Kansas City’s Troost Corridor neighborhood.
  • Hispanic Business Initiative Fund of Florida, dba Prospera: Expand bilingual technical assistance program to serve Latinx entrepreneurs in seven rural counties in North Carolina.
  • Rural Development Initiatives, Inc.: Develop a network of entrepreneurship education and support initiatives across rural Oregon.
  • The Sewing Labs: Pilot program designed to provide training, equipment, and business skills to low-income women seeking to launch their own sewing businesses.
  • University of Central Arkansas: Expand the Conductor 10X Accelerator program to serve 10 additional rural communities across Arkansas.