Diversity & Inclusion
Entrepreneurs / Resources / Small businesses

These West Philly orgs’ pilot program aims to launch more local entrepreneurs

West Philadelphia CDC and LA21's Change Program will connect aspiring business owners with the resources to get started.

60th Street businesses closed amid COVID-19 restrictions. (Photo courtesy of Jabari Jones)

West Philadelphia CDC and Lancaster Avenue 21st Century Business Association (LA21) are launching a pilot program to help Philadelphians with entrepreneurial plans to get their businesses off the ground.

The goal of the one-year Change Program, LA21 Executive Director Kwaku Boateng told Technical.ly, is for participants to shift their perspectives from community members to business owners. It’s meant for those who aren’t quite ready to join a more advanced accelerator, but who might want to someday, once their business plan is clarified.

In addition to personal and group coaching and workshop trainings, the program has a foundation in change methodology and is trauma informed. The program has about a dozen participants so far, Boateng said.

For the executive director, this program differs from LA21’s previous work focusing on only West Philly. As corridor manager, LA21 is responsible for the cleaning and beautification of the area between Lancaster Avenue from 34th to 44th streets, and Market Street from 34th to 38th streets, a 20-block radius.

“The innovative Change Program is our way of exposing our programming to the whole city of Philadelphia,” Boateng said. “We want people from all over the city.”

Taking into account how COVID-19 has impacted local communities citywide, he hopes this entrepreneurship program can address a gap of resources for entrepreneurs of color.

“Many people who dream of business ownership aren’t ready to fit into existing training programs offered throughout the city,” he said in a statement. “We need to act now, to address both the services gap and the negative economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Change Program is hosting two sessions of its free “Making Change: How to Move Forward During Confusing Times” event for possible program participants. Learn more on LA21’s website and register here for either March 10 or 11.

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.

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