Expanding Opportunities for Entrepreneurs of Color in Atlanta

Posted August 3, 2017
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog expandingopportunitiesforentrepreneurs 2017

The Casey Foun­da­tion and The Kende­da Fund have launched a col­lab­o­ra­tive to strength­en busi­ness own­er­ship among African Amer­i­cans in Atlanta. The group — which includes microlen­ders, pol­i­cy and advo­ca­cy orga­ni­za­tions, the Mayor’s Office of Resilience and Atlanta’s eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment author­i­ty — is focus­ing on entre­pre­neur­ship as a strat­e­gy to close the city’s grow­ing racial wealth gap. In 2016, Atlanta had the sec­ond high­est rate of income inequal­i­ty in the nation.

Busi­ness own­er­ship cre­ates new wealth faster than tra­di­tion­al wage employ­ment, accord­ing to a recent report from the Asso­ci­a­tion for Enter­prise Oppor­tu­ni­ty. Black entre­pre­neurs are wealth­i­er than their peers who do not own busi­ness­es and many hire from with­in their com­mu­ni­ties, cre­at­ing job oppor­tu­ni­ties in neigh­bor­hoods of col­or that might not oth­er­wise have access. How­ev­er, bar­ri­ers includ­ing low lev­els of per­son­al sav­ings, grow­ing stu­dent loan debt and lim­it­ed access to busi­ness cred­it hin­der the growth of black-owned busi­ness­es across the nation. Pros­per­i­ty Now, which part­ners with com­mu­ni­ty orga­ni­za­tions to expand eco­nom­ic oppor­tu­ni­ties for low-income Amer­i­cans, is facil­i­tat­ing the group as it works to address these and oth­er chal­lenges entre­pre­neurs of col­or in Atlanta face.

We are thrilled that sev­er­al new part­ners, includ­ing the Geor­gia Micro Enter­prise Net­work and the Vil­lage Micro Fund, are join­ing us in this work, along with those like Access to Cap­i­tal for Entre­pre­neurs Inc. that we have long­stand­ing rela­tion­ships with,” says Janelle Williams, who leads the Foundation’s fam­i­ly eco­nom­ic suc­cess work in Atlanta. Though this col­lab­o­ra­tive is just get­ting off the ground, I am beyond excit­ed to see what we can accom­plish togeth­er in the months ahead.”

The group has iden­ti­fied a pre­lim­i­nary set of goals and strate­gies to encour­age greater col­lab­o­ra­tion and align­ment among orga­ni­za­tions that sup­port entre­pre­neurs, increase black busi­ness own­ers’ access to exist­ing tech­ni­cal assis­tance and advance com­mu­ni­ty wealth more broad­ly, which it will work to refine over the com­ing months.

Learn more about Kendeda’s work in Atlanta

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