Newswise — SALT LAKE CITY – The Sorenson Impact Center today announced the launch of Project DEEP (Developing Equitable Economies Program) – a multi-pronged initiative including a new series of free video courses designed to accelerate the growth of underrepresented entrepreneurs. Course facilitators include an impressive array of world-class experts, including Beta Boom Managing Partner Kimmy Paluch, national economic development expert Dell Gines, and Womenpreneurs Co-founder and investor Rose Maizner.
Three courses focus on tactical topics for entrepreneurs, and three focus on shifts for stakeholders who can influence entrepreneurs’ success, including investors, economic developers, and entrepreneur support organizations. Course facilitators were chosen for not only their extensive professional expertise but also their lived personal experience overcoming the systemic barriers Project DEEP seeks to eliminate.
“Too many resources focus on “fixing” entrepreneurs without recognizing it’s the system that needs to change – our aim with Project DEEP is to both directly support overlooked entrepreneurs and more broadly shift the burden of change to the ecosystem decision makers who can influence entrepreneur success,” said Megan Brewster, Senior Manager at Sorenson Impact Center and co-director of the series. “Too much in our current entrepreneurial ecosystem isn’t working for the increasingly diverse modern entrepreneur, and there is a significant opportunity cost in not remedying this.”
In the U.S.’s current entrepreneurial ecosystem, inequities persist across investment, lending, network access, technical assistance, and more. Take funding, for example: On the debt side, the average loan amount in 2020 was 33% lower for women-owned businesses, while on the equity side, less than 2% of venture capital goes to female-founded firms and less than 3% goes to Black or Latinx founders.
The slow change in these systemic barriers contrasts with the opportunity inherent in supporting women and entrepreneurs of color. According to the American Express Women-Owned Businesses report, women of color are starting businesses at more than 4x the rate of all businesses and generate $422.5 billion in revenue. Women are starting more than 1,800 businesses per day on average, and women-owned firms are increasing employment at more than 4x the rate of all businesses.
“Research shows that entrepreneurs of color have a net worth 10-12x greater than their non-entrepreneurial peers – entrepreneurship is key to building lasting wealth and creating a sense of place in communities” said Dell Gines, entrepreneurial ecosystem expert and course facilitator for the initiative. “Project DEEP will help provide the resource and knowledge sharing to generate more of that in communities that have been left behind for too long.”
Project DEEP is funded by the Economic Development Administration, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and the Sorenson Impact Foundation. The project also included additional components, such as a community partnerships program funding Utah-based entrepreneur support organizations Women’s Business Center of Utah and New Pattern and an impact measurement component.
The initiative builds on the Center’s prior work around equitable entrepreneurship locally and nationally, including its 2018 landscape analysis report that reviewed challenges and opportunities for small businesses owned by women and people of color in Utah. This pioneering report provided concrete recommendations for better supporting historically marginalized entrepreneurs.
About the Sorenson Impact Center
The Sorenson Impact Center helps organizations achieve their impact vision by connecting capital to social and environmental solutions, helping organizations measure, report, and improve impact, and integrating data science and people-centered storytelling into all that we do. Along with our clients and partners, we share a vision of an equitable and thriving world where everyone is valued, communities prosper, and the measured impact of our actions guides decision-making. As part of our mission to train future impact leaders, the Center integrates academic programming and experiential learning into each of its practice areas. The Center is proudly housed at the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business. Learn more at http://www.sorensonimpactcenter.com
About the Economic Development Administration
As the only federal government agency focused exclusively on economic development, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) plays a critical role in fostering regional economic development efforts in communities across the nation. Through strategic investments that foster job creation and attract private investment, EDA supports development in economically distressed areas of the United States. Learn more at https://www.eda.gov/
About JPMorgan Chase
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading financial services firm based in the United States of America (“U.S.”), with operations worldwide. JPMorgan Chase had $3.7 trillion in assets and $294.1 billion in stockholders’ equity as of December 31, 2021. The Firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing and asset management. Under the J.P. Morgan and Chase brands, the Firm serves millions of customers in the U.S. and many of the world’s most prominent corporate, institutional and government clients globally. Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at www.jpmorganchase.com.
About the Sorenson Impact Foundation
The Sorenson Impact Foundation invests in innovative social entrepreneurs who look to solve the world’s most pressing needs. We invest around the world in companies that have developed scalable, innovative and potentially disruptive solutions to the world’s most pressing needs including access to quality healthcare and education, workforce development, sanitation, water, and clean energy. Learn more at https://sorensonimpactfoundation.org/