When people are inspired by ideas – movements are formed. And when movements are formed, individuals and leaders are able to achieve the sort of collective action that is capable of deep and lasting change. Through movement building, AWBI will strengthen the infrastructure for sustained collaboration, coordination and mobilization, while developing leaders and strengthening organizations.
Our work is informed by and in partnership with practitioners and community. Beginning in 2017, AWBI, The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site, The Kendeda Fund, and Prosperity Now identified organizations to participate in a Community of Practice (CoP) after facilitating several stakeholder interviews. The Community of Practice was tasked with shaping recommendations for a more vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem to support African American businesses in building community wealth. The CoP understands that creating a self-sustaining, economic ecosystem that is inclusive of all people will require a deliberate, equitable strategy marked by jobs, innovation, renewed resolve, and new economic structures.
Over the course of six months in 2017, the Community of Practice convened for three in-person and two virtual conversations facilitated by Prosperity Now. Meetings focused on identifying some of the key challenges facing African American entrepreneurs, including lack of access to credit, capital, technical assistance, networks, and markets as well as solutions within the systems that drive these challenges. Each organization submitted a SWOT analysis intended to take stock of and reveal overlaps within strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. After exploring the data and identifying challenges, the CoP prioritized the need to increase the number of African American businesses with more than one employee. A final report, released in the fall of 2017, identified key strategies for supporting 1,000 Black-owned businesses in 1,000 days to hire one additional employee or pay a living wage. Working groups and initiatives formed and launched by the CoP are actively moving from strategizing and planning to action as part of AWBI.
Following its initial convening almost two years ago, the Community of Practice continues to meet and push forward their goals, focused on systems change, collaborations that enhance collective action to enhance local economies and to catalyze and inform AWBI’s thought leadership and movement building strategies.
To learn more of the Community of Practice and how your organization can get involved, please reach out to Alicia Reeves at email@example.com.
Community of Practice members include:
Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs (ACE), Annie E. Casey Foundation – Social Investments, Annie E. Casey Foundation – Atlanta Civic Site, Annie E. Casey Foundation – Racial and Ethnic Equity and Inclusion (REEI), Atlanta Beltline Partnership, Atlanta Beltline, Inc., Atlanta Village MicroFund, Comunidad Connect, Democracy Collaborative, Economic Empowerment Initiative, Evergreen Cooperatives, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, Georgia Micro Enterprise Network (GMEN), Georgia Institute of Technology, Enterprise Innovation Institute, Georgia Watch, Grove Park Foundation, Invest Atlanta, Business Attraction, Invest Atlanta, Small Business Development, City of Atlanta, Office of Housing & Community Development, Division of Economic Development, City of Atlanta, Mayor’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, City of Atlanta, Mayor’s Office of Resilience, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Development, Open Book People, LLC, Partnership for Southern Equity (PSE), People to People Enterprises, Prosperity Now, Race Forward/The Center for Social Inclusion, Russell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Start ME/Emory Gouizueta, The Guild, The Kendeda Fund, Torian & Whitley Consulting, Urban League of Greater Atlanta, Young Entrepreneurs of Atlanta