Diversity & Inclusion
Entrepreneurs / POC in Tech / Resources / Small businesses

15+ business development resources for Black and Latinx entrepreneurs in Philly

These local orgs can help biz leaders of color build their networks and grow capital.

Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse founder Ariell Johnson. (Photo courtesy of Amalgam Comics & Coffeehouse)

This article appears in a series on Black and Latinx entrepreneurship in Philadelphia and is underwritten by PIDC and Ben Franklin Technology Partners. It was independently reported and not reviewed by these partners before publication.

Update: Additional resources will be added to this article periodically. (1/11/20, 11:53 a.m.)

Philadelphia promotes itself as a friendly place to do business. But we also hear in our reporting that opportunities for funding, networks and other resources are harder to come by — both locally and nationally — if you’re a person of color.

In Technical.ly’s recent series profiling the professional journeys of local Black and Latinx entrepreneurs, our interviewees shouted out several resources that they’d used to boost their businesses. Below is roundup of what they said, plus a handful of other opportunities we’ve come across.

If you’re a Black or Latinx entrepreneur looking to build in Philadelphia, these resources might help you, too. Some are specific to entrepreneurs of color, while others or more general. And some are specific to COVID-era needs while some are long-standing institutions.

This list is non-exhaustive, so email philly@technical.ly about other resources we should consider for inclusion.

The Enterprise Center

Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

  • This nonprofit offers opportunities and community among Latinx business professionals via events, connections and bizdev programming.
  • This chamber has worked to help entrepreneurs in need during the pandemic with efforts like the Latinx Small Business Relief Fund.

PIDC

  • Since 1958, PIDC has operated at the city’s public-private economic development corporation with a goal to boost communities throughout Philadelphia via business financing, real estate investment and professional development for entrepreneurs.
  • PIDC frequently hosts bizdev events, and its partnership with Your Outsourced CFO helps business owners better organize their finances.

Entrepreneur Works

  • This nonprofit provides multi-week business courses throughout the year for Philadelphia-area professionals to develop their entrepreneurial skills.
  • During the pandemic, it has offered virtual workshops to help businesses maximize sales and profits.

African American Chamber of Commerce

  • The African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware advocates for minority-owned businesses in the region.
  • The goal of this membership-driven nonprofit is to advocate for more economic opportunities for Black-owned businesses in the area.

City of Philadelphia’s Department of Commerce

  • The Office of Economic Opportunity within the Department of Commerce registers minority, women, and disabled-owned businesses and helps local government meet its goal of 35% participation from these groups in its contracts. If you want to do business with the City, start here.
  • The department’s Office of Business Services also offers one-on-one support, helping entrepreneurs to connect with funding opportunities and other resources. Call its hotline at 215-683-2100 or email business@phila.gov to be connected with a business services manager.

Temple University’s Small Business Development Center

Clarifi

  • For more than 50 years, Clarifi has offered financial counseling, education and resources for people to better manage their finances.
  • Its interactive bootcamps allow participants access to one-one-one counseling, group workshops and a personal financial coach. A racial wealth gap training component is specially designed to assist professionals of color.

Economy League of Greater Philadelphia’s PAGE

  • The Philadelphia Anchors for Growth and Equity partnership with the City and other local institutions has an aim to “increase local purchasing by large institutional buyers to grow Philadelphia businesses, strengthen the local economy, create jobs, and build wealth.”
  • The Economy League also recently partnered with Independence Blue Cross to launch the Well City Challenge, an incubator program focusing on the health and wellness of local millennials.

Women’s Opportunities Resource Center

  • Women in Pennsylvania can use WORC as a resource for information and opportunities. This institution caters to economically disadvantaged women women and their families.
  • During the pandemic, WORC has worked to provide its network of professionals with information on COVID-19 relief resources.

Department of Commerce’s In-Store Forgivable Loan Program

  • This competitive program allows entrepreneurs to take out loans and if they stay in business for five years or longer, those loans become grants. Retail, food and creative arts businesses in local business corridors are eligible to apply.
  • The loans are between $15,000 and $50,000 and have no payments or interest.

Philly Startup Leaders

  • PSL is a nonprofit and a community of startup entrepreneurs based in the Philadelphia region that offers events, an online email listserv and other forums for connection. Its accelerators provide mentorship as well as funding opportunities, with extra focus on supporting underrepresented entrepreneurs.
  • Philly Startup Leaders has two accelerators, with its most recent cohort beginning in fall 2020.

Ben Franklin Technology Partnership

  • The southeastern branch of this statewide org funds early-stage life science and tech startups in the region.
  • In April 2020, it formed the Save Our Startups capital initiative offering $2 million to “innovation companies” negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

PhillyCAM

  • PhillyCAM is the nonprofit behind the city’s public access television network. It provides training and access to equipment for community members to tell their stories.
  • In 2020, PhillyCAM launched a pre-apprenticeship program for emerging media professionals.

Launch Lane Accelerator

  • This new, cohort-based program from the University City Science Center helps early-stage tech startups move “from prototype to sales and customer acquisition.”
  • While it doesn’t claim to be specifically for founders of color, the accelerator does use a blind application process, which its leadership says leads to more diverse cohorts.

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Consider these national programs, too.

U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development program

  • The 8(a) Business Development programs helps small businesses that are at least 51% owned by economically and socially disadvantaged U.S. citizens attain at least 5% of federal contract dollars each year.
  • Participants should have an annual profit of less than $350,000, or $750,000 over three years.

U.S. Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans

Michael Butler is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: African American Chamber of Commerce / Ben Franklin Technology Partners / City of Philadelphia / Economy League of Greater Philadelphia / Enterprise Center / Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation / Philly Startup Leaders / PhillyCAM / U.S. Small Business Administration / Temple University / University City Science Center
Series: Boosting Black and Latinx Entrepreneurship in Philadelphia

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