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Entrepreneurial Leadership in a Time of Social Crisis

Posted By: Jeff Smith NACCE Blog ,

As entrepreneurial educators and leaders we know that it is our responsibility to be useful to our fellow human beings. As such, we understand that we must align our interest, skills, and capacities with the needs of others to solve problems that we care about. Our world is calling out for all kinds of entrepreneurs, including social and civic entrepreneurs, to employ the entrepreneurial mindset as they address some of the most pressing issues of our times. One of those issues is racial injustice.

Right now, communities across America are experiencing tremendous pain as a result of "witnessing" the murder of Mr. George Floyd. Some of you may be hearing the names and stories of the many others that were lost before Mr. Floyd’s death served to illuminate the pain so many are feeling. Our hope is that this deep collective pain will lead us into a collective lament. Lament allows us to better understand our own pain, connect to the pain of others, and embrace our responsibility to help each other heal. Lament can also lead us to the place of accepting our responsibility to be entrepreneurial educators and leaders who build small businesses as well as other entrepreneurial organizations and institutions that ensures everyone in our communities has an opportunity to thrive.

The truth is that racial injustice and inequality persists. And, in order to help change that, it’s critical to not only say something about it, but to do something about it. Our members and partners have a unique opportunity to promote healing and reform as we seek to build inclusive innovative entrepreneurial ecosystems that eliminates barriers to entrepreneurship and economic success for African Americans and other disenfranchised people. The first step is reflection and thoughtful self-examination. Then, we listen. We learn. We speak up. That’s how change happens. We know many of you are past this stage. And from you we need your leadership. Below are a few suggestions about how we might proceed as a community on this journey together.

  1. Read books like Underdog Entrepreneurs and reports like the 2018 Growth Productivity Revenues Output: The Business Case for Racial Equity published by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
  2. Provide professional development for your staff that focuses of entrepreneurship, equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  3. Work with your local chambers to identify equity gaps and devise strategic plans to address them.
  4. Join organizations in your community focused on addressing racial inequity and co-create knowledge about how entrepreneurship can provide a solution.
  5. Invest in minority owned businesses.
  6. Develop culturally relevant entrepreneurship programs.
  7. Inquire about our efforts to support entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds through our partnership with the Everyday Entrepreneurship Venture Fund.
  8. Become an active part of our Equity and Inclusion Center of Practice.

Join the work of our Equity and Inclusion Center of Practice, and help us make even greater strides toward racial justice and equity. We invite those of you who are interested to reach out to Jeff , smith@nacce.com, and let us know that you would like to be a part of helping us be the change we want to see.