New Built by Philly ‘micro site’ features voices of, support for entrepreneurs of color

The Philadelphia skyline

The Philadelphia skyline. (Mark Henninger/Imagic Digital)

A new “micro site” launched Tuesday, featuring voices of Philadelphia business owners of color.

The Built by Philly website features a directory of businesses categorized by type with video interviews with the owners in an effort to provide more support for entrepreneurs of color in the region. The videos include tips on navigating entrepreneurship, as well as the personal experiences of the business owners. The site is the first project funded by a $750,000 grant from JP Morgan to support business people of color.

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Michael Banks, managing director of employment, opportunity and entrepreneurship of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, said his team hopes to expand the site to offer business owners access to customers and funding, and that videos are about more than just business advice.

“To be able to access peers and hear their stories and know about their journey is critically important,” he said. “Oftentimes as an entrepreneur, you feel as if this is a journey of one, but a lot of folks are going through a lot of the struggles at the same time and also experiencing some victories that they can share with the rest of their peers so they can have a similar trajectory.”

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James Johnson, the founding principal and CEO of Urbane Development, one of the groups working on the site, hopes to expand the site’s business tools as more entrepreneurs join the fold.

“My hope is that as we are able to recruit more recruits in addition to the site, offer more resources and frankly, tap into that wider ecosystem network around what resources are already out there, this becomes really a true portal for entrepreneurship in the city,” he said. “And folks will come here first to identify opportunities around capital and customer provision, but also the support and mentorship.”

Organizers say the website is only the first step in addressing what they see as a critical underrepresentation of people of color among business owners in the city.

Broke in PhillyWHYY is one of over 20 news organizations producing Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project on solutions to poverty and the city’s push towards economic justice. Follow us at @BrokeInPhilly.

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