Inner City Entrepreneurs

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Although a lot can be inferred, not much is known about inner city entrepreneurs in terms of their business practices, motivations, skills, knowledge base, etc. Boston University, along with the Kauffman Foundation, has published a report entitled, "Building Ventures and Expanding Community Ties: The Case of InnerCity Entrepreneurs." According to the authors, the purpose of this study of 29 inner city entrepreneurs was to "explore how well current theories about entrepreneurs and firm growth are supported when applied to minority and female-run entrepreneurial ventures inside urban settings."

The results of their study are very interesting.

This study shows the relative importance of individual, firm and community factors in driving the growth of inner-city enterprises. We find that the entrepreneur’s involvement in the community is tied to his or her values, motives and strategic actions. In these ways, community involvement has an impact on the growth of the venture. These insights highlight the gap in our thinking about economically and socially driven ventures. Most of the ICE entrepreneurs do not fit the classic profiles of “traditional” businessmen and women who are primarily, perhaps even exclusively, focused on the bottom line or social entrepreneurs who use good business practices explicitly to do more social good. Their ventures are best described as “hybrids” or “business-and-community ventures” in that they reflect both the entrepreneur’s need to focus on the bottom line and the socially-minded activist‘s desire to make the community better.


Using the knowledge gained from this research, we should be able to develop and implement programs that help promote more business-minded social entrepreneurs in urban communities. These individuals have a love for inner cities, because they often live there, and they are committed to making them better for all people. It seems reasonable to me that they should be equipped with the tools and capital to do just that. With the right type of mentoring and business development resources, they can be more effective than a lot of other programs that are supposed to be in place to revitalize inner city communities that are falling short. It's time to start investing resources where there can be a good chance of a return, socially and financially, and stop throwing money at programs that are no longer working.

Full article. Enjoy!

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