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ESHIP Summit

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

An economy cannot succeed when everyone cannot participate. Without the equitable inclusion and empowerment of people who have been historically and systematically excluded, entrepreneurial ecosystems fail. To achieve a healthy economic system, we must work together relentlessly to remove barriers and level the playing field. These Firestarters focus on the work of providing access to ecosystems for all.

Allyship and Inclusion in an Entrepreneurship Ecosystem: Thoughts on Change Catalyst’s Firestarter Talk on Allyship

Presented by Wayne Sutton
and Melinda Epler

Written by Felecia Hatcher

Watch: “The Role of Allyship in Your Entrepreneurial Community” | 12:44

Creating and running a truly inclusive innovation ecosystem does not come without deep work and intention. In fact, experience has shown that there is no backdoor means or a shortcut to building one locally.

Allyship is understanding the imbalance in opportunity in our entrepreneurship ecosystem and putting significant efforts into changing it. The allyship foundation involves both underrepresented entrepreneurs and founders, implying that both parties must be aware of their immediate environment – who is missing and who is available.

Data and insights have indicated that allyship inclusion, if maximized, can help to create diverse and inclusive tech ecosystems that are more profitable for everyone involved.

Cohado as a Practice for Ecosystem Builders: Paulo Gregory Harris on Breaking Down the Male Paradigm

Presented by Paulo Harris

Written by Louisa Shepherd

Watch: “ESHIP Summit Firestarter: Paulo Harris” | 16:16

We say that “community” and “togetherness” are concepts that we live by, but are we really truly practicing them?

Are we continually evaluating our work to make sure that our efforts accrue to the benefit of society as a whole?

Are we dismantling the systems that create inequity and injustice? Or are we simply treating the symptoms of “The System” that lie at the root of the problems we seek to solve?

As Harris begins his story, he recounts a chance meeting with a young man named Eric seeking opportunities for employment and sharing his inspiration for sparking a revolution within the community. In Harris’s story, he and Eric discuss their hopes for the youth of Baltimore and a vision for what their ecosystem could look like – a vision that sat in stark contrast with the community’s current reality.

Optimizing Community: The Evolution of Context as Shared by Dell Gines

Presented by Dell Gines

Written by Paulo Gregory

Watch: “A New Model for Entrepreneur-led Economic Development” | 16:32

There is no question. Ascendent Cultures, those not reflective of the dominant narrative, are the target of relentless undermining (and over-mining) of the incredible resources these communities bring – from Omaha, Nebraska, to Baltimore, Maryland, the pattern is the same.

Now let’s get this straight. Dell Gines is a black man, looking slick as extra virgin olive oil, from his suit to his shoes, working for the Federal Reserve, and speaking truth made digestible with drops of humor. As a black man myself – this was a unique experience to witness. This is why I love the ESHIP Summit. The genius of those making the decisions to break up the rigid tendons of our expectations of what the world is, to create room for what could be, is the essence of Dell’s message – and the essence of Dell himself.

Overcoming Equity and Equality Challenges: Melissa Bradley on Barriers Traditionally Marginalized Entrepreneurs Face

Presented by Melissa Bradley

Written by Dell Gines

Watch: “The Economic Imperative of Inclusion in Entrepreneurship” | 14:36

Inclusive ecosystem building is imperative for long-run economic growth and stability as well as fostering a fairer society.

To achieve this, it requires us to take a hard look at how we view individuals from different backgrounds, and how we support including those differences in the ecosystem building process.

It should be our priority to bake inclusivity into the ecosystem building cake, and make it a fundamental aspect of entrepreneurship development versus a secondary consideration.

At the 2018 ESHIP Summit, Melissa Bradley discussed how the shifting demographics in the United States requires a more inclusive approach to entrepreneurship ecosystem building.

Serving the Underserved Through Entrepreneurial Ecosystems: Joe Kapp on his Experience Supporting Rural and LGBTQ Communities

Presented by Joe Kapp

Written by Cecilia Wessinger

Watch: “ESHIP Summit 2019: Joe Kapp” | 19:46

Joe Kapp’s entrepreneurship journey has not been about the next great creation or making a million dollars, but focused on social justice and social change. He spent years counseling people on death and dying on an AIDS Hotline in Florida.

Through that work, Joe learned the importance of self-advocacy, especially when no one else was advocating for you.

He went on to start businesses and services centered on the LGBTQ community.

Living in West Virginia and surrounded by naysayers, Joe was inspired by those around him. “As I’ve traveled across Appalachian and to other rural communities around America, I’ve been struck by the sheer poverty and the plight facing many people … opioid drugs, the lack of clean water, challenges with internet access … But I’ve been even more struck by the wonderful potential and the resiliency that exists in our rural communities.”

What Does an Entrepreneur Look Like? Thoughts on Aliza Sir’s Firestarter Talk on Togetherness

Presented by Aliza Sir

Written by Jeff Bennett

Watch: “ESHIP Summit 2018 Firestarter: Aliza Sir” | 7:13

Aliza Sir is a social entrepreneur in residence with the AARP Foundation, the charitable affiliate of AARP.

At the 2018 ESHIP Summit, she addressed the issue of inclusivity in entrepreneurship for older adults, asking the audience to challenge their assumptions of what an entrepreneur looks like through several stories about adults over the age of 50 who want to work for themselves.

The AARP Foundation works to end senior poverty by helping older adults achieve economic opportunity and social connectedness. In examining how they wanted to do that, the AARP Foundation looked beyond traditional workforce solutions — reviewing entrepreneurship, small business, and the future of work.