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Built By Philly

The Philadelphia Equitable Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Assessment & Strategy

Philadelphia faces racial and social inequities that undermine the city’s economic vitality. Addressing these inequities requires Philadelphia to embrace an inclusive approach that builds community and individual wealth across all of the city’s neighborhoods and presents equitable avenues to economic opportunity and entrepreneurship.


Addressing Fundamental Barriers

Since early 2020, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, the City of Philadelphia Department of Commerce, and PIDC have engaged local business owners, community-based organizations, business support organizations, and anchor and philanthropic institutions to assess the evolving state of small business in Philadelphia and identify opportunities to address historical inequities for the city’s entrepreneurs of color, magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supported by a team of professionals from Next StreetUrbane DevelopmentEconsult Solutions, Inc., and SourceLink, this initiative aimed to elevate locally relevant insights and national best practices for building inclusive and holistic entrepreneurship ecosystems to level the playing field for entrepreneurs and small business owners of color.

Gathering Community Insight

Combining in-depth data analysis, nearly 200 conversations with local small business owners and stakeholders, and input from a 31-member Advisory Council, this collaborative conducted a robust assessment of challenges in Philadelphia’s entrepreneurship ecosystem and proposes a comprehensive realignment of existing and future support services to form a more equitable environment for the city’s entrepreneurs and small business owners of color.

This proposed path forward aims to address historical racial barriers limiting access to entrepreneurial capital, business education and services, and growth opportunities, respond to the ongoing economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and create new avenues for all of the city’s entrepreneurs to start, sustain, and scale their businesses.


The COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged small businesses across Philadelphia, particularly among the city’s business owners of color.


of the city’s total employment are small businesses, playing a critical role for the local workforce.


account for Black-owned businesses in Philadelphia, despite making up 44% of the city’s population.


account for Latino(a)-owned businesses in Philadelphia, despite making up 17% of the city’s population.


less small businesses have opened in Philadelphia since the start of the pandemic.

May 2021
Philadelphia Equitable Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Report



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Improving Philadelphia’s small business environment. is a platform for BIPOC entrepreneurs to connect and grow through better access to capital, services, and customers. The site features the research findings of the Philadelphia Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Report and amplifies the voices and ideas of Philadelphia’s entrepreneurs.

Hear their stories and learn more at

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