Diverse small business owners build the rich tapestry of Philadelphia's neighborhoods. How can we in turn collectively champion an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem that centers their voices, needs, and aspirations?
United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), and Philadelphia Department of Commerce
2020 - 2021
Mixed Methods Research
Small Business Storytelling
Interactive Microsite Development
The United Way and the City of Philadelphia are committed to supporting an environment where diverse business owners can start and grow a business successfully. In the spring of 2020, Urbane partnered with a consultant team of Next Street, Econsult Solutions, Inc., and SourceLink on an initiative to assess and strengthen the ecosystem of support available to Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) small business owners in Philadelphia.
Leveraging local relationships and small business expertise, Urbane led a primary research process that delved into the needs, goals, and stories of intersectional entrepreneurs and mapped the resources currently available to business owners. BIPOC Philadelphia business owners face varying and unique layers of challenges, in many cases related to poverty in their neighborhoods or families, impacts of COVID-19, and systemic bias. A strong entrepreneurial ecosystem therefore requires a more holistic view of the types of support systems needed to navigate these challenges. Urbane has identified and elevated strong emerging support ecosystems within cultural, geographic, or industry communities that comprise of formal providers as well as peer networks. These microecosystems play a key role in connecting to the estimated two-thirds of small business owners who are left out by the existing ecosystem.
Urbane’s engagement process has included interviews with 88 BIPOC business owners and 107 representatives from 84 business, capital, and social service providers, in addition to a detailed survey of 68 capital and service providers. With the guidance of an Advisory Council made up of business owners, capital providers, and City and civic leaders, Urbane synthesized broad engagement insight to implement an actionable, community-led framework for strengthening the inclusivity and efficacy of the Philadelphia small business ecosystem.
Please visit builtbyphilly.org to hear the research through the stories and ideas of some of the entrepreneurs who drove the initiative. The subsequent short video is one of numerous vignettes on the website that centers these entrepreneurs and provides a glimpse into their livelihoods, needs, challenges, advice, and aspirations.