CMURC supports inclusive entrepreneurship because people from all backgrounds deserve access to business and entrepreneurial resources – and to ultimately close the opportunity gap. Innovation and entrepreneurial development are generally linked with startup companies but have also proven to be critical components to keeping existing companies in business. COVID-19 has changed everything about how we live and run businesses and has dramatically changed the outlook for entrepreneurs. A playing field that was already uneven for underrepresented populations has now been made even more uneven by COVID-19.
Entrepreneurship should be accessible for everyone, and the best ideas should win. However, many entrepreneurs face barriers to entry that are beyond their control, particularly when it comes to raising capital. Consider that 83 percent of funding comes through personal net worth, family wealth, or connections to networks.1 Very little of the total capital flow to entrepreneurs is geared toward underrepresented populations, particularly women and racial minorities.
• One percent of venture capital dollars went to African American and Latino founders and less than two percent of venture capital dollars went to women founders.2
• Only 9 percent of proposals to angel funds come from women.
• Before COVID-19, new Blackowned businesses started with almost 3x less overall capital than new White-owned businesses.
• Men were 60% more likely to secure funding than women when pitching the same business. We cannot solve this problem for entrepreneurs without looking at the entire way the economic system functions. Communities need a mechanism and network to help all people.
As a 501(c)(3) organization, CMURC has developed programs to increase aptitudes in innovation, business risk evaluation, creative problem solving, along with financial implications of decision making. To have entrepreneurs excel no matter what their background. CMURC plans to start to level the playing field by creating the following:
• Recruit diverse members to participate in the “Right Choice” entrepreneurial program to connect mentors directly with minority and underprivileged populations.
• Create a diverse and inclusive culture for entrepreneurs, professionals, and corporations through the CMURC Connectivity Portal to engage and grow business.
• Recruit entrepreneurs and building bridges between CMURC and CMU outreach to include: Institute forDiversity, Equity and Inclusion, Office of Civil Rights, Office of LGBTQ Services, Multicultural Academic Student Services, and Native American Programs.
To get this started, our goal is to raise $200,000 to leverage $800,000 to achieve an inclusive ecosystem for entrepreneurs to thrive and positively impact the economy in the Great Lakes Bay Region.