Catalyzing Entrepreneurship for a Dynamic Economy

Since 2008, more businesses have closed than opened, creating a net contraction in the number of American businesses for the first time in decades. Business failure rates spiked during the most recent recession, while entrepreneurial activity broadly declined. In 2015, attendees in the Entrepreneurship Working Group will work to reverse this trend by expanding opportunities to start businesses—namely among underrepresented populations—and supporting business survival and growth.

2015 Subtopics

Finding and Supporting the Next Wave of Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship rates have declined, but many communities have enormous amounts of untapped human capital. Attendees will develop strategies to engage underrepresented populations in entrepreneurship and remove barriers to their success.

Stability and Success

Businesses face challenges even in periods of growth, from finding a steady flow of customers to procuring credit to fund their activities. Attendees will identify programs that can help businesses survive and expand.

Entrepreneurship as a Solution

Entrepreneurship can be used as a tool to enhance health, fight climate change, and improve education. Attendees will examine the needs of social enterprises and define strategies to support this growing sector.

Innovative Commitments

Empowering Entrepreneurs Thru Skills-Based Volunteering

By: Pacific Community Ventures
In 2014, Pacific Community Ventures committed to expand their online business advising platform,, serving 600 new companies. The online platform, launched in the Bay Area in 2013, enables experienced business professionals to provide high-quality, cost-effective volunteer assistance, and enables entrepreneurs to sign-up for helpful advice. The customized algorithm matches business owners with advisors based on company challenges and volunteer expertise.

Elevating Entrepreneurs – Access to Mentoring, Capital, and Education

By: UBS Americas; Valley Economic Development Center (VEDC)
In 2014, UBS Americas and Valley Economic Development Center (VEDC) committed to expand their previous commitment, which made $15 million of loan capital available to small businesses. UBS and VEDC are now committing an additional $20 million to small businesses, in loans from $50,000 to $500,000, expanding the programmatic offerings and geographic reach of the Elevating Entrepreneurs mentoring, education, and networking activities to fuel small business growth.

Green Business Development in Indian Country

By: Trees, Water & People (TWP); Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE)
In 2014, Trees, Water & People (TWP) and Lakota Solar Enterprises (LSE) committed to a major expansion of their green job skills training program for Native Americans, which created an informal network of Green Teams on 14 reservations across the Great Plains. The expansion will create a new approach to help Native Americans develop and run their own green businesses—including new workshops, a green business plan competition, and training in alternative construction methods.

Access to Healthy Food Challenge

By: Queen City Forward (QCF)
In 2014, Queen City Forward (QCF) committed to launch an innovation challenge competition to foster new initiatives dedicated to increasing access to healthy food in Charlotte, North Carolina. QCF is a social entrepreneurship incubator that operates a startup accelerator called Impact3, and will engage 10 to 12 finalists with promising business models for improving food access in a four- to six-week program of structured learning, mentorship, and access to resources.

Voices from the Meeting

Charles Thomas
Executive Director
Queen City Forward

Charles Thomas, a participant in the 2014 Entrepreneurship Working Group, shares how an innovation competition will galvanize solutions to improve access to affordable, healthy food in the Charlotte region. Read his story.

Featured Past Participants

Accion U.S. Network
Bank of America Corporation
B Lab
Case Foundation
Dell Inc.
Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
Girl Scouts of the USA
Goldman Sachs
McKinsey & Company
United States Department of Commerce
UP Global
U.S. Small Business Administration