(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.
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 email@example.com about other resources we should consider for inclusion.
- Located in West Philadelphia, The Enterprise Center has offered minority entrepreneurs with training and resources since 1989.
- The org also operates the The Enterprise Center Community Development Corporation to support community revitalization and The Enterprise Center Capital Corporation to provide debt and equity capital to entrepreneurs. It’s also partnering with Social Venture Circle to launch the $1 million Pro Disinfect Coalition to help Black and brown cleaning businesses to compete for COVID-19 contracts, and has helped businesses rebuild following social unrest during 2020.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected with a business services manager.
- This center is a part of the Fox School of Business and offers free consulting services to the public.
- Its new Center for Hospitality Resilience and Center for Digital Transformation programs are designed to help businesses beset by the pandemic better transition into the future using digital tools. Small tourism and hospitality businesses affected by COVID-19 can apply. Services are free to access for the public and include virtual events about surviving the pandemic.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
Consider these national programs, too.
- 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.
- These federal loans are designed to help support businesses that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
- The Paycheck Protection Program has also been reopened, thanks to the new $900 billion federal relief bill.
Michael Butler is a 2020-2021 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.
Keyspots and minority entrepreneurship will get boosts with these new City programs
University City Science Center is launching a new program for first-time entrepreneurs
What 10 Black and Latinx entrepreneurs say they need to succeed in Philadelphia
As PPP loans open again, here’s what small business owners learned in the last round
Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Philadelphia