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Focus on inclusive ecosystems to build entrepreneurship and growth

June 06, 2019

A new report from the Kansas City Federal Reserve and Opportunity HUB (OHUB) reveals the importance of building an inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem. Authored by Dell Gines of the Kansas City Federal Reserve and Rodney Sampson, chairman and chief executive officer of Opportunity Hub, the report examines how entrepreneurship ecosystem building has lacked an emphasis on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. The guide provides an overview of key concepts and gives general recommendations on how to use entrepreneurship ecosystem building to develop high-growth entrepreneurship in communities of color.

The authors note that to date little has been done to ensure that ecosystem building is inclusive for people of color and their communities, yet it has the power to create jobs and decrease the racial wealth gap. The report goes on to develop a framework to help local economic developers and entrepreneurship ecosystem builders understand some of the major processes of building ecosystems in communities of color.

Sampson identifies key elements that a high-functioning ecosystem needs to have in place, beginning with early exposure and socialization; education and skills development; and talent placement, including summer internships, apprenticeships and early roles — all of which the authors contend should take place prior to the innovation that occurs where ecosystem builders traditionally start.

While each ecosystem builder will have to navigate their own given community, the authors offer some general recommendations from thought leaders to help ecosystem builders get started. The recommendations include understanding the racial and economic data for your area, engaging the broader community, determining who the stakeholders are, and creating or adopting a model based on where you are starting that should create immediate wins to create momentum. The full report, Building Entrepreneurship Ecosystems in Communities of Color, is available here.

inclusion, economic development, entrepreneurship