Frequently Asked Questions
If you are generally interested in joining our community of practice around race and gender equity in early-stage entrepreneurship in St. Louis, fill out our interest form or send us a note here.
I’M TIRED OF GOING TO MEETINGS AND TALKING, WHEN ARE WE GOING TO START ACTING?
This effort is for you! At the end of 2017, we held a regional summit where we had a common conversation across our roles as entrepreneurs, funders, investors, members of entrepreneur support organizations and other stakeholders. During the event, participants identified short and long-term strategies for building race and gender equity into our ecosystem. These strategies were the starting point for the work of our Action Teams, which launched in January 2018. Volunteers have been working on doing research and formulating recommendations for the Collective to review regarding Improved Wayfinding and Navigation of Ecosystem Resources and Development of a living Tool Kit to support organizations in adopting more equitable cultures, processes and procedures to create internal and external change. To review the recommended actions, please read the Report or Executive Summary. For updates on the working group activities or to join an Action Team, please contact us.
MY PROGRAM ALREADY SERVES WOMEN, ENTREPRENEURS OF COLOR AND OTHER HISTORICALLY UNDERSERVED/ UNDERREPRESENTED GROUPS. HOW IS THE ST. LOUIS EQUITY IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP COLLECTIVE DIFFERENT?
The focus area for impact is explicitly on the ecosystem as a whole, understanding how the work of individual organizations add up to more St. Louis women and entrepreneurs of color creating businesses. We know company founders rarely receive support from only one advisor, mentor or organization; the Collective is focused on the alignment and amplification of individual organizational efforts...AND helping those who personally interact with entrepreneurs to do so in a more equitable way.
WHAT DOES “EARLY-STAGE” MEAN? DOES MY BUSINESS OR ORGANIZATION FIT IN THAT FOCUS AREA?
Generally, we are referring to companies in scalable business for less than 3 years. Anyone interested in this specific type of entrepreneurship, or race and gender equity in new business creation is welcome to join the effort.
WHY FOCUS SOLELY ON “EARLY-STAGE” BUSINESSES?
We recognize that scope of entrepreneurship and small business is broad. We also recognize that these issues are complex. Starting with a narrow focus allows for more immediate impacts and lessons learned to be applied to a larger swath of entrepreneurship. We also know that women and people of color are underrepresented in venture capital funding, company leadership and other metrics of entrepreneurship success compared to their make-up of the broader American population.
YOU MENTION RACIAL EQUITY-IS THIS EFFORT RELATED TO THE WORK OF THE FERGUSON COMMISSION?
Though not officially affiliated with the work of the Ferguson Commission, the Ferguson Commission’s call to understand the impacts of racial inequities in St. Louis influenced the creation of this effort. The increased focus on racial equity across St. Louis, as well as local partners engaged (currently and historically), in both race and gender equity work offers ample opportunities for cross-effort learning and collaboration.
This is work is also informed and connected to other efforts in St. Louis addressing topics that are related to who can be successful in entrepreneurship, including education, criminal justice, public health and banking. We are informed by the following regional efforts and reports:
- Alive and Well
- MCU Break the Pipeline
- Ferguson Commission Report/Forward Through Ferguson
- Generate Health St. Louis
- Ready by 21
- STEM STL
- Thread STL
- Health Equity Works FKA For the Sake of All
For more information about how these overlapping efforts are related, please contact us.
WHO IS ENGAGED WITH ST. LOUIS’ EQUITY IN ENTREPRENEURSHIP COLLECTIVE CURRENTLY?
To date, we have had over 400 community members and organizational representatives engaged in the effort. We have formalized our partnership structure and you can find the current list of Sponsors and Partners here. We invite you to be counted (individually and/or as an organization) in this work. You can review a Partnership Agreement here.
The effort benefitted greatly from organizing activities and perspectives of the following organizations:
CET (Center for Emerging Technologies)
Missouri Small Business Development Center
St. Louis Economic Development Partnership
St. Louis Makes
St. Louis Regional Chamber
Venture Café St. Louis
Please fill out this contact form.