A Platform for BIPOC Entrepreneurs

Built by Philly helps businesses connect and grow. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs shared their ideas for improving Philadelphia’s small business environment. It starts with better access to capital, services, customers, and the overall ecosystem.

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A Platform for BIPOC Entrepreneurs

Built by Philly helps businesses connect and grow. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) entrepreneurs shared their ideas for improving Philadelphia’s small business environment. It starts with better access to capital, services, customers, and the overall ecosystem.

Capital Access

Available Capital

Loans and credit-building resources should be more affordable and more accessible.

Business owners need more access to start-up capital.
Business owners need more
access to growth capital.
Lenders need better ways to assess entrepreneur borrowers.

A Path Forward

Research

Each year, there is an estimated gap of $7-8 billion between supply and demand of capital for Philly small businesses. 

 

There is a gap for small businesses seeking $100k – $250k to scale. See more insights on the capital landscape.

Featured Work

The Collective is building a Black Real Estate Impact Fund to fill a capital gap for developers. 

 

The Greater Philadelphia Financial Services Leadership Coalition is setting up a $100M fund for loans and grants to BIPOC-owned businesses.

Guidance and Support

Business owners want more guidance and support to access capital that is available.

Information on available capital should be easier to find.
Emergency capital is often difficult to access.

A Path Forward

Research

Philadelphia has historically had few SBA 7(a) lenders. As a result, few lenders were able to process PPP loans at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. See more insights on the capital landscape.

Featured Work

Built by Philly is exploring the development of an online navigator that tailors recommendations for Philadelphia business resources, including capital and business services.

Equity Investment

Stronger connections should be made between entrepreneurs and equity investors.

Good investors can offer friendly terms and support to founders.
Investment is less available for some business types.

A Path Forward

Research

Equity investments in Philadelphia have historically been concentrated in high growth and tech-enabled industries. See more insights on the capital landscape.

Featured Work

PAGE Capital Subcommittee is working to connect capital resources to BIPOC businesses. 

 

The Philanthropy Network‘s Mission-Aligned Investors Cohort seeks new ways of shifting capital into the community.

Business Services

Targeted and Accessible Support

Business owners want to see services that are more specific and representative of BIPOC communities.

Tailored, industry-specific resources can be hard to find.
Many BIPOC entrepreneurs do not feel represented.
Misinformation creates challenges for entrepreneurs.

A Path Forward

Research

Service accessibility for business owners is dependent on trusted relationships, word of mouth marketing, and key logistical factors like geography, language, and digital capability. See more insights on the business service landscape.

Featured Work

Black Squirrel is made up of leaders in West Philadelphia who together offer hyper-local capital, service, and business outreach.

 

The Merchants Fund’s Beyond the Grant program addresses a gap in hands-on, longer term service. 

Professional Services

Stronger connections need to be made to affordable, high-quality professional services.

More affordable professional services are needed.
Peer businesses provide or recommend quality services.
Opportunities to exchange services are valuable.

A Path Forward

Research

Interviewed entrepreneurs and business service organizations identified gaps in access to quality professional services, especially business planning, taxes, and legal support. See more insights on the business service landscape.

Featured Work

The Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce developed a Bookkeeping Bootcamp to provide temporary free access to the KPMG Spark bookkeeping platform along with financial management coaching.

Peer Networks

Business owners want more opportunities to learn from each other.

Business owners want to learn from other business owners.
Business owners are creating channels to share information.
Mentors are valuable guides, and more are needed.
Programs that build networks are especially helpful.
The business community can be a strong support system.

A Path Forward

Research

Many interviewed business owners expressed a strong wish for peer networks and mentors. Many also are – or want to be – mentoring and fostering new entrepreneurs in their communities. See more insights on the business service landscape.

Featured Work

BLACtivate! is an entrepreneur-led connector of Black-owned businesses to customers, resources, and community partners. Its Mastermind group is a collective of business owners who gather to share information and collaboration opportunities.

Customers and Markets

Online Presence

A digital presence is vital for small businesses.

New products and experiences can be offered online.
A strong web presence reaches more customers.

A Path Forward

Research

The COVID-19 pandemic increased the need for businesses to be online. Interviewed entrepreneurs identified a shortage of support with digital marketing and attracting customers from other neighborhoods. See more insights on support for customer access.

Featured Work

The Temple SBDC is implementing the Pennsylvania Digital Transformation and eCommerce Program (PADTEP), which provides free support with digital literacy, web development, e-commerce, cyber security, and digital marketing.

Intentional Opportunities

Systemic discrimination limits market opportunities for BIPOC entrepreneurs and must be addressed.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion efforts need more intention.
Contracts offer opportunity for small businesses to grow.
Contract awards should account for more than price.

A Path Forward

Research

Interviewed entrepreneurs want to see stronger City commitment to connect BIPOC businesses to public contracts, including better promotion of City contracts. See more insights on support for access to markets.

Featured Work

The Diverse Procurement Collaborative is a commitment of 100 of the largest employers in greater Philadelphia to increase the diversity of their contracting networks.

Procurement Resources

With the right resources, more businesses could tap into contracts and procurement opportunities.

Network building is key for contract opportunities.
A consistent stream of projects helps with capital flow.
Bidding processes should be simplified.

A Path Forward

Research

While assistance with certification is available, there is a shortage of resources to support BIPOC businesses in winning and building a pipeline of contracts. See more insights on support for access to markets.

Featured Work

PAGE Prep is Economy League’s capacity-building program for Black-owned businesses who are already in the procurement pipeline and seek to expand their access to customers.

Ecosystem

The Role of Small Business

Small business owners build Philadelphia. Philadelphia owes its support to small business owners.

Small businesses make the city of Philadelphia what it is.
Entrepreneurs often put their personal finances on the line.
Owning a business blends work and life.

Advocacy and Decision-Making

BIPOC entrepreneurs must have a seat at the table to advocate for critical changes.

A seat at the table should be more accessible.
A supportive approach for regulatory processes is needed.
Changes are needed in taxes and regulations.

A Path Forward

Research

Interviewed entrepreneurs called for streamlining the process of engaging with the City. Currently, there is a perceived disconnect between decision-makers and entrepreneurs. See more insights on the ecosystem.

Featured Work

Built by Philly is connecting partners through an interactive platform and leadership structure that creates space for entrepreneurs to influence future initiatives and policies.

Resource Navigation

Business resources should be easier to navigate.

Existing resources are difficult to navigate.
Service providers play a role as resource navigators.
A single platform for resources and opportunities is needed.

A Path Forward

Research

Organizations in Philly’s small business ecosystem reach only a fraction of the BIPOC businesses they set out to serve. Clearer connections built on trust are needed. See more insights on the ecosystem.

Featured Work

Built by Philly is exploring the development of an online navigator that tailors recommendations for Philadelphia business resources, including capital and business services.

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Business owners need more access to start-up capital.

Start-up loans from banks can be difficult to get, so many entrepreneurs have had to use their own money, borrow from friends or family, or find more expensive sources of capital.

Patricia Claybrook

Jidan Cleaning

Jamil Scurry

La’vanter Boutique

Danae Burns

Marq B Hair Salon

Heseung Song

Mighty Engine

Business owners need more access to growth capital.

Many find that their potential to scale up or reach more customers is limited by access to capital.

Chris Paul

Lakay PHL

Leslie Smallwood-Lewis & Gregory Reaves

Mosaic Development Partners

Florangel Delacruz

Lisflor's Creations Unisex

Sergio Giraldo

Rehobot Real Estate & Cash Flow Property Management

Lenders need better ways to assess borrowers.

Small businesses have difficulty securing capital when lenders assess their risk as borrowers in the same way they would assess larger businesses.

Sergio Giraldo

Rehobot Real Estate & Cash Flow Property Management

Raymond Alvarez and Esther Alvarez

A & I Security, LLC

Patricia Claybrook

Jidan Cleaning

Andre Andrews

Dre's Water Ice and Ice Cream

Information on available capital should be easier to find.

Business owners describe the difficulty of finding and securing affordable capital and want more support on where to look.

Dana Maddox and Dominyque Davis

12th Glow

Sergio Giraldo

Rehobot Real Estate & Cash Flow Property Management

Oluwafemi

Worldtown

Matthew Law

Matthew Law

Emergency capital is difficult to access.

Many faced challenges securing emergency funds during outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matthew Law

Matthew Law

Charlene Rawlinson

Lene's Daily Child Care, Inc.​

Florangel Delacruz

Lisflor's Creations Unisex

Raymond Alvarez and Esther Alvarez

A & I Security, LLC

Good investors offer friendly terms and support to founders.

Entrepreneurs should have resources to connect to investors who provide support beyond capital.

Joseph Kitonga

Vitable Health

Investment is less available for some business types.

For example, businesses selling consumer products have a more difficult time securing capital from equity investors.

Sherrill Mosey

MinkeeBlue

Many entrepreneurs want to acquire their buildings.

Affordable loans for real estate acquisition can have a strong positive impact on the growth and stability of a business, but the capital can be hard to find.

Sergio Giraldo

Rehobot Real Estate & Cash Flow Property Management

Jamil Scurry

La’vanter Boutique

Joshua Rivera and Luis Hincapie

Fortaleza Rehab and Fitness

Dr. Sagar N. Venkateswaran

Peacock Laboratories, Inc.

Tailored, industry-specific resources can be hard to find.

Philly has a shortage of highly focused supports to guide business owners through unique points of the journey in their industry. Industry-specific resources that do exist have provided significant value.

Lene's Daily Child Care, Inc.

Charlene Rawlinson

Chris Paul

Lakay PHL

Many BIPOC entrepreneurs do not feel represented.

Business owners have called for clearer intentionality among providers to serve BIPOC business owners, as well as greater BIPOC representation among the providers themselves.

Oluwafemi

Worldtown

Dana Maddox and Dominyque Davis

12th Glow

Madlab Entertainment

Nicole Ayers

Misinformation creates challenges for entrepreneurs.

Misconceptions related to starting a business can make the process more difficult. Clearer information and narratives around entrepreneurship would create more opportunity.

Rasheed "Rafik" Abdellah

Indie-Life Events & Media

Emely Roman

The Foundry Collective

Sherrill Mosey

MinkeeBlue

More affordable, quality professional services are needed.

Business owners have challenges finding professional service providers (like lawyers, accountants, marketing professionals, and consultants) that fit their budget and offer high-quality services.

Dr. Sagar N. Venkateswaran

Peacock Laboratories, Inc.

Leslie Smallwood-Lewis & Gregory Reaves

Mosaic Development Partners

Dana Maddox and Dominyque Davis

12th Glow

Jason Ray

Zenith Wealth Partners

Peer businesses can provide or recommend quality service.

Peer networks are a valuable tool to find quality professional service providers through recommendations and trusted referrals.

Andre Andrews

Dre's Water Ice and Ice Cream

Rasheed "Rafik" Abdellah

Indie-Life Events & Media

Entrepreneurs often find opportunities to barter.

Business owners can access goods and services more affordably by exchanging their own goods and services with each other.

Jamil Scurry

La’vanter Boutique

Dana Maddox and Dominyque Davis

12th Glow

Danae Burns

Marq B Hair

Business owners want to learn from other business owners.

Many interviewed entrepreneurs noted that the best guidance comes from a someone who can speak from personal experience. Opportunities to learn from peers or mentors are most in demand.

Anthony Tyrone Howard

ATH ARTS

Jamil Scurry

La’vanter Boutique

Joseph Kitonga

Vitable Health

Danae Burns

Marq B Hair

Business owners create channels to share information.

Some are creating resources or networks to share information with their peers. These learnings are especially valuable because they are tailored to certain industries or cultural backgrounds.

Emely Roman

The Foundry Collective

Leslie Smallwood-Lewis & Gregory Reaves

Mosaic Development Partners

Sherrill Mosey

MinkeeBlue

Mentors are valuable guides, and more are needed.

Mentoring relationships often have the benefit of being more personal, more targeted, or longer-term than other peer-based learning opportunities, but it can be difficult to find the right fit.

Heseung Song

Mighty Engine

Danae Burns

Marq B Hair

Sherrill Mosey

MinkeeBlue

Programs that build networks are especially helpful.

Several programs make a point of developing cohorts or networks among participating business owners. The relationships built in these programs often offer long-term benefits of a peer network.

Danae Burns

Marq B Hair

Jidan Cleaning

Patricia Claybrook

Carlo Batts

Rittenhouse Appraisals

The business community can be a strong support system.

Peer business owners understand the often-difficult, often-rewarding road of entrepreneurship in a way that others cannot. The small business community plays an important role as support system.

Jason Ray

Zenith Wealth Partners

Emely Roman

The Foundry Collective

Jezabel Careaga

Jezabel's Café

Oluwafemi

Worldtown

New products and experiences can be offered online.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused customers to look online more regularly for purchases and experiences, and business owners had to move quickly to adapt.

Jezabel Careaga

Jezabel's Café

Chris Paul

Lakay PHL

A strong web presence reaches more customers.

E-commerce, social media, and well-built websites reach more customers in and beyond Philadelphia. Support building a strong web presence would help more small businesses meet customers digitally.

Sherrill Mosey

MinkeeBlue

Rasheed "Rafik" Abdellah

Indie-Life Events & Media

DEI efforts must be more intentional.

Efforts to include BIPOC business owners in contract awards cannot be an afterthought. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) should be included from the very beginning of the process.

Leslie Smallwood-Lewis & Gregory Reaves

Mosaic Development Partners

Blane F. Stoddart

BFW Construction Project Managers

Heseung Song

Mighty Engine

Contracts offer opportunity for small businesses to grow.

Tapping into larger projects allows small businesses to pursue and achieve continued growth.

Carlo Batts

Rittenhouse Appraisals

Andre Andrews

Dre's Water Ice and Ice Cream

Raymond Alvarez and Esther Alvarez

A & I Security, LLC

Leslie Smallwood-Lewis & Gregory Reaves

Mosaic Development Partners

Contract awards should account for more than price.

Contracts should be awarded to the best bid, not just the lowest bid. Factors like past performance and inclusion should be weighed more heavily.

Patricia Claybrook

Jidan Cleaning

Blane F. Stoddart

BFW Construction Project Managers

Strong networks are key to contract and customers.

Networking helps entrepreneurs find clients and prepare to respond to contract opportunities, but networks can be hard to break into.

Melody Wright

SAY/DO Strategies

Joshua Rivera and Luis Hincapie

Fortaleza Rehab and Fitness

Emely Roman

The Foundry Collective

A consistent stream of projects helps with capital flow.

Contractors can charge lower prices if they have a more consistent stream of projects, but they often need to charge more while they are growing.

Blane F. Stoddart

BFW Construction Project Managers

Bidding processes should be simplified.

Bidding successfully requires a lot of capacity and connections, especially for smaller businesses going after contract or subcontract opportunities.

Raymond Alvarez and Esther Alvarez

A & I Security, LLC

Patricia Claybrook

Jidan Cleaning

Blane F. Stoddart

BFW Construction Project Managers

Small businesses make the city of Philadelphia what it is.

For a myriad of reasons — from personal attention to detail, to tailored products and services, to community-minded actions — small businesses improve their communities and the city as whole.

Danielle Johnson

Purpose Wellness Consulting Group

Sergio Giraldo

Rehobot Real Estate & Cash Flow Property Management

George Lawrence

GL Agency

Jason Ray

Zenith Wealth Partners

Entrepreneurs often put personal finances on the line.

Business owners often use personal capital. Especially in times of economic uncertainty, financial stability is risked as entrepreneurs work to keep the business running.

Joshua Rivera and Luis Hincapie

Fortaleza Rehab and Fitness

Jason Ray

Zenith Wealth Partners

Oluwafemi

Worldtown

Florangel Delacruz

Lisflor's Creations Unisex

Owning a business blends work and life.

Several interviewed business owners spoke of the whole-hearted effort that goes into running a small business, sometimes at the expense of their personal time.

Florangel Delacruz

Lisflor's Creations Unisex

Dr. Sagar N., Nalini, & Rumya Venkateswaran

Peacock Laboratories, Inc.

A seat at the table should be more accessible.

Business owners themselves are the experts on what is needed in the ecosystem and are best positioned to inform small business policies and programs.

George Lawrence

GL Agency

Charlene Rawlinson

Lene's Daily Child Care, Inc.

Carlo Batts

Rittenhouse Appraisals

Oluwafemi

Worldtown

A supportive approach for regulatory processes is needed.

Several business owners have experienced challenges with the enforcement of regulations. Several have called for more support in complying with regulations before fines are handed out.

Jezabel Careaga

Jezabel's Café

Charlene Rawlinson

Lene's Daily Child Care, Inc.

Chris Paul

Lakay PHL

Danae Burns

Marq B Hair

Changes are needed in taxes and regulations.

Certain taxes and regulations are relatively stringent in Philadelphia, and changing them would benefit small business owners.

Carlo Batts

Rittenhouse Appraisals​

Rasheed "Rafik" Abdellah

Indie-Life Events & Media

Andre Andrews

Dre's Water Ice and Ice Cream

Matthew Law

Matthew Law

Existing resources are difficult to navigate.

While myriad services and capital resources exist in Philadelphia, they are not well organized or easy to find.

Danae Burns

Marq B Hair

Raymond Alvarez and Esther Alvarez

A & I Security, LLC

Florangel Delacruz

Lisflor's Creations Unisex

Service providers play a role as resource navigators.

Business-serving organizations can play a vital role in helping entrepreneurs connect with the resources they need.

Nicole Ayers

Madlab Entertainment

Sergio Giraldo

Rehobot Real Estate & Cash Flow Property Management

Charlene Rawlinson

Lene's Daily Child Care, Inc.

A single platform for resources and opportunities is needed.

Entrepreneurs want an accessible, unified place to begin when looking for different types of resources. 

Dana Maddox and Dominyque Davis

12th Glow

Emely Roman

The Foundry Collective