A Report of  Promising Ideas from three U.S. Cities


A research team led by Duke University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation spoke with community leaders across three unique cities to identify strategies to build inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems for Black entrepreneurs. By focusing on Black entrepreneurs, who have often faced ongoing barriers to business ownership and wealth generation, our report identifies activities that create an equitable playing field for all dreamers, makers, and doers. 


An inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem connects people, programs, institutions, and policies to provide equitable access to the tools and resources entrepreneurs need to successfully create, build, and scale new businesses. Our hope with this research is to inspire and encourage cities across the nation to consider and implement strategies that create equitable outcomes for all entrepreneurs.

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A Report of  Promising Ideas from three U.S. Cities

Our Research Approach

To identify opportunities to build inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems our team: 

  • Conducted an environmental scan of three cities: Atlanta, Durham, and Detroit
  • Gathered insights from over 30 policy makers, entrepreneurs, foundations, investors, and entrepreneurship support organizations 
  • Compiled case analysis findings that measured the inclusiveness of entrepreneurship ecosystems based on the Forward Cities E3 Scorecard

Each city’s entrepreneurial ecosystem was assessed through the lens of Black entrepreneurship using the Forward Cities E3 Scorecard.

Explore the Forward Cities E3 Scorecard

Guiding Questions 

  • How can cities create inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems for Black entrepreneurs that provide a foundation for equity?
  • How can cities at various development stages design policies and programs that create more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems?
  • What are the unique opportunities and challenges that stakeholders should consider while increasing equity in their entrepreneurship ecosystems?


8 Key Insights to Design Inclusive Entrepreneurship Ecosystems

The following key insights from research help create and maintain inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystems. Learn more about each insight below.

City Snapshots

Atlanta, Durham, and Detroit each have a distinct history of Black entrepreneurship that provides insights into common challenges and opportunities for action to improve outcomes for Black entrepreneurs today. Each city offers a lens into how we can better address existing systemic barriers and cultivate inclusive ecosystems for entrepreneurship to more fully flourish. 




Meet the Team

Duke Fuqua’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Meet the team collaborating with RTI International to create solutions that will inspire stakeholders to decrease barriers to entrepreneurship.  

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